Florida governor pulls 21 more murder cases from state attorney who won’t seek the death penalty

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Rick Scott

Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Monday removed 21 first-degree murder cases from a state attorney who refuses to seek the death penalty.

It’s not the first time that Scott has acted because of his disagreement with Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala, the Orlando Sentinel and the Tampa Bay Times report. Three weeks ago, Scott removed Ayala from the prosecution of Markeith Loyd, who is accused of killing his former girlfriend and an Orlando police officer.

The cases will be transferred to Brad King, a state attorney based in Ocala. Six of the newly transferred cases involve defendants awaiting trial, while the others involve convicted killers.

Scott maintains he has the power to transfer the cases under a state constitutional provision that allows him to do so if it is in the best interests of justice. The provision is usually used to avoid conflicts of interest, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

“Each of these cases I am reassigning represents a horrific loss of life,” Scott said in a statement. “The families who tragically lost someone deserve a state attorney who will take the time to review every individual fact and circumstance before making such an impactful decision.”

Ayala maintains Scott is abusing his authority and compromising the independence of the justice system, according to a spokeswoman, Eryka Washington.

Hat tip to the Marshall Project.




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