A central Florida state attorney said on Thursday that she will not seek the death penalty in any case during her tenure, becoming the first elected prosecutor in the state to take a stand against capital punishment.
Aramis Ayala, who serves the area around Orlando, said during a news conference Thursday that she has “determined that doing so is not in the best interest of the community or the best interest of justice.” Most notably, she said she will not seek the death penalty against Markeith Loyd, who was accused of killing an Orlando police officer and his pregnant ex-girlfriend.
Her decision comes the same week that Gov. Rick Scott (R) restored Florida’s death penalty with the requirement that juries are unanimous in recommending the sentence.
After Ayala’s announcement, Scott asked her to recuse herself from the Loyd case, Attorney General Pam Bondi (R) called it is a “blatant neglect of duty and a shameful failure to follow the law,” and Orlando Police Chief John Mina said he’s “furious” with her decision.
“If there was any a case for the death penalty, this is the case,” Mina told the Orlando Sentinel.
But Ayala maintained that the death penalty does not provide justice for victims’ families, is used to rarely to work as a deterrent, and costs more than imposing life sentences.
Criminal justice reform advocates, who have the same concerns with capital punishment, called her decision
“Florida’s death penalty is deeply flawed,” Robert J. Smith, director of the Fair Punishment Project, said in a statement. “Not only have innocent men and woman been sentenced to death, but individuals with crippling mental impairments have also faced capital punishment. It is refreshing to see a prosecutor acknowledge these troubling defects and commit to halting death penalty prosecutions in light of these problems.”
Ayala is not the only elected prosecutor to make this decision. Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said during the election that she would not seek the death penalty as prosecutor.