State Attorney Ayala says Florida governor overstepped

Gov. Scott removed Ayala from first-degree murder case

By Vanessa Araiza - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - Ninth Judicial Circuit State Attorney Aramis Ayala says Florida Gov. Rick Scott overstepped his authority when he pulled her off the Markeith Loyd case after she said she would not pursue the death penalty in any cases.

In a legal motion filed Monday in Orange County, Ayala said she can be removed only if the governor "determines that for good and sufficient reasons” and “the ends of justice would be best served” by her removal.

The motion claims that allowing the governor to interfere could undermine Florida's judicial system. The motion also said that her removal because of a "disagreement over her exercise of discretion" is unprecedented.​

"I do have every intent to honor the governor's order,” Ayala said. “Whether or not I believe it is lawful, I do not want to interrupt these proceedings so based upon the order at this point I am going to allow Mr. King office to sit as council and I would be prepared in case the governor acknowledges that his unprecedented order is unlawful.”

Loyd is accused of shooting and killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Sade Dixon, and Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton.

Scott removed Ayala from Loyd's case and reassigned it to Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney Brad King after Ayala made her announcement about the death penalty on Thursday.

In reference to Ayala's motion to stay filed Monday morning, King said, "I would say that the filing of the governor’s executive order divests Mrs. Ayala of any jurisdiction to be a party in this cause. The governor has appointed me.”

Chief Judge Frederick Lauten said the situation is unusual. 

"I have never seen a situation like this in my career," Lauten said.

Law enforcement officials were clear about their opposition to Ayala's decision last week. 

Orlando Police Chief John Mina was out of the country when the news broke. 

​"I felt probably a little helpless being all the way over there and not knowing what was going on so I am glad that people did call me, and the State Attorney Aramis Ayala did reach out to me,” Mina said. “Of course, I was asleep when that phone call came through because of that time change.” 

Mina said he hopes to see King stay on the case.

A spokesperson for the governor said Monday in an email to News 6 that reassigning the case to King "was the right decision" and that "our office will continue to review our options."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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