Outgoing state attorney drops death penalty in 3 high profile cases

Monqiue Worrell will be sworn as new state attorney later this week

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Monique Worrell was sworn in as the new state attorney for Orange County and Osceola County.

Monday night, the outgoing state attorney, Aramis Ayala, decided to drop the death penalty against four defendants in three high profile cases.

News 6 spoke with Worrell about what this means for the start of her administration

“This is not the beginning that I had hoped for, but I’m not going to stay here I’m not going to be stuck here,” Worrell told News 6.

Worrell admits this was not the first day on the job she had anticipated.

She said her administration would not be defined by this move.

It was one of the last moves Ayala made while still in office--filing notices that her office would not seek the death penalty against four defendants in three high profile cases, after initially seeking death.

“I know that the families have been contacted and they were made aware of the outgoing state attorney’s decision and that was within her purview to do,” Worrell said.

Those notices were filed Monday, the day before Worrell officially took office.

In a statement, Ayala wrote she personally reviewed each of the three cases.

Ishnar Lopez-Ramos and Alexis Ramos-Rivera are both accused of kidnapping and murdering the wrong woman in a murder-for-hire love triangle.

Ayala wrote in court filings their age and absence of significant criminal history contributed to the decision.

“She told me that she believed it was in the interest of justice for her to withdraw these notices, based on her individualized assessment,” Worrell said.

With Anthony Todt, a Celebration man accused of killing his entire family, Ayala wrote concerns regarding his mental health made the difference.

Federico Gondola is accused of killing an elderly couple.

Ayala wrote his age and lack of criminal history were factors in her decision not to seek death.

“I don’t want my term to be defined by what we do or don’t do with regard to the death penalty,” Worrell said.  “That is a very small percentage of what a state attorney does,” she said.

It’s her first official day on the job, but Worrell started the work a while ago.

She says she has hired about 25 employees and already established her executive team.

Her swearing-in celebration is scheduled for this Friday.

About the Author:

Emmy Award-winning reporter Louis Bolden joined the News 6 team in September of 2001 and hasn't gotten a moment's rest since. Louis has been a General Assignment Reporter for News 6 and Weekend Morning Anchor. He joined the Special Projects/Investigative Unit in 2014.