Ayala misses deadline to seek death penalty in Osceola homicide

Case to be first Ayala would seek death in since legal battle with Gov. Scott

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - The Orange Osceola State Attorney’s Office missed the paperwork deadline to seek the death penalty for a woman accused of killing a 20-year-old man.

The case would have been the first State Attorney Aramis Ayala said she would seek capital punishment in since making the controversial statements that she would not pursue the death penalty while in office for any cases.

Emertia Mapp, 33, is accused of stabbing Zackery Ganoe to death April 10 at a Days Inn in Kissimmee. Mapp also faces attempted murder charges after another man was found with stab wounds at the scene.

Mapps attorney filed a motion Wednesday to prevent the state from seeking death.

After losing a court battle against Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who stripped dozens of cases from her office, Ayala said she would only pursue death in first-degree murder cases if her panel of assistant states attorneys unanimously agreed.

Ayala's office had 45 days to file for the death penalty. Sources told News 6 that one of the seven death-penalty panel members was on vacation. It's unclear if that is the case of the missed deadline.

"The decision to file the notice to seek death was made with the full knowledge and awareness that the 45 day time period had elapsed," Ayala said in a statement Friday. "Now that the defense has filed a proper motion we will litigate the issue and we feel confident that we will receive a favorable ruling."

Scott had strong words for the state attorney after learning of the paperwork snafu.

“It is absolutely outrageous that Aramis Ayala failed to seek justice in the case against Emerita Mapp who is accused of attacking multiple people and killing Zackery Ganoe," Scott said in a statement. "I have been clear that I stand with the victims of crime and their families and they deserve answers from the State Attorney’s Office on how this critical deadline was not met. I’ll continue to review reassigning cases from her office since she is failing to fight for victims and their families.” 

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