"People of faith across Florida are deeply troubled by capital punishment - its needless destruction of human life, its toll on murder victims' families, and its enormous cost to the state", agreed Rev. Dr. Russell L. Meyer, executive director of Florida Council of Churches.
Ayala beat Ashton in the Democratic primary last August after she had worked as an assistant state attorney under him in Florida's 9th Judicial Circuit, covering Orange and Osceola counties. "I don't want her touching my sons case".
Her declaration created shock waves in criminal justice circles and in the state Capitol, where lawmakers overwhelmingly voted to revise the state's death penalty last week. "She has an agenda", said Zaldivar, whose son's killer was sentenced to death in 2015.
Okafor was sentenced to death in 2015 in the execution-style shooting death of Alex Zaldivar, who was scheduled to testify against Okafor in a separate home invasion case.
She said Florida spends $51 million more per year holding inmates on death row than it would holding them for life without parole, and added that the average death row inmate waits 12 years between sentencing and execution.
However, not everyone seems satisfied with Gov. Scott's decision.
A spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Scott said Thursday that the governor is reassigning the Markeith Loyd case to a prosecutor in a neighboring district northwest of Orlando.
On Thursday she announced that, after a review of law, she concluded the death penalty is not just for anyone and she would not pursue it in any cases in the circuit, including that of alleged cop-killer Markeith Loyd. "They will never continue to drain resources from this state with decades of appeals", Ayala said.
Loyd was arrested on January 7 after a nine-day manhunt that followed the shooting death of Orlando police Master Sargent Debra Clayton. He was arrested on January 17, bringing a nine-day manhunt to an end.
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Scott has broad authority under state law to reassign cases if "for any other good and sufficient reason" he feels "the ends of justice would best be served" by doing so.
Ayala also cited research indicating that the death penalty does not make law enforcement safer or reduce crime.
"I'm prepared for just about anything", King said.
Demings supported Scott's executive order, saying the victims' families do, too. At the time, Loyd was already a suspect in the murder of his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Sade Dixon, in December.
On Monday, Scott signed a bill that required a unanimous jury recommendation to hand down the death penalty.
Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe said he's known judges who opposed the death penalty but still applied the law in cases that merited it.
"My closure will be when Markeith Loyd is six-feet under", Seth Clayton, the widower of Lt. Debra Clayton, told Orlando's deputy police chief Thursday, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
"State Attorney Aramis Ayala's decision today sends a risky message to residents and visitors of the greater Orlando area-furthermore, it is a blatant neglect of duty and a shameful failure to follow the law as a constitutionally elected officer", wrote Bondi in a statement. She was given no chance.
Ashton also said he believes Ayala may have adopted the position to please her political benefactor, NY progressive activist billionaire George Soros, who ran an independent campaign on her behalf last summer.