ORLANDO, Fla. - The mother of homicide victim Sade Dixon spoke out Friday in support of State Attorney Aramis Ayala's decision to not seek the death penalty for her daughter's accused killer or anyone else.
"We all need to stand behind (Ayala), She is standing within the confines of the law," Stephanie Dixon-Daniels said in front of the Orange-Osceola State Attorney’s Office in Orlando.
The statements were a change in tone a day after law enforcement and Gov. Rick Scott expressed outrage for Ayala's decision to not pursue capitol punishment for Markeith Loyd.
Loyd is accused of killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend, 24-year-old Dixon on Dec. 13 and Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton at an Orlando Walmart on Jan. 9. He was arrested on Jan. 17, bringing a nine-day manhunt to an end.
Dixon-Daniels said after the state attorney explained the process involving years of delays, she understands life in prison will be the best way for her family to move on.
"I would love for him to die right now but that's not going to happen. So, seeking the death penalty is not an option. Either way it goes he will die in prison," Dixon-Daniels said.
In a news conference Friday two other mothers of murdered children and a man exonerated from Florida's death row also pledged their support of Ayala’s announcement to not purse the death penalty.
"There are no amount of retaliatory deaths that will restore my little girl," said Marietta Jaeger Lane, whose 7-year-old daughter Susie was kidnapped and murdered in Montana.
Jaeger Lane, who now lives in Florida, said she was "extremely proud of Ayala's decision."
Earlier in the morning, Rafael Zaldivar, the father of Alex Zaldivar, who was 19 when he was murdered by Bessman Okafor, held a news conference at the courthouse, where he called the justice system "a complete joke."
Zaldivar said that after Ayala's announcement on Thursday, he has no confidence in her.
On Thursday, Ayala cited time, resources and cost to taxpayers in her decision to not pursue the death penalty in any case.
Dixon-Daniels said she doesn't want to be dragged in and out of court with appeals if Loyd is convicted and fights his execution.
“By choosing to seek life sentences over death, we can assure that violent offenders will never be released. They will never continue to drain resources from this state with decades of appeals,” Ayala said.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott removed Ayala from the Loyd case after asking her to recuse herself. Ayala refused to recuse herself, so Scott assigned the Loyd case to Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney Brad King via executive order.
The State Attorney’s Office issued a statement Thursday after Scott removed Ayala from the case.
“I spoke to Gov. Scott. I offered to have a full conversation with him regarding my decision about death penalty. He declined to explore my reasoning,” Ayala said in an email.
Law enforcement leaders were quick to condemn Ayala decision, including Orlando police Chief John Mina, whose officer was shot and killed on Jan. 9.
Mina said if ever there was a case for capital punishment this is it.
"I have seen the video of Markeith Loyd standing over the helpless and defenseless Lt. Debra Clayton," Mina said. "He had the opportunity to run and flee to get away and escape, but he chose to stand there and fire multiple rounds into her helpless and defenseless body."
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