State Attorney Brad King will ‘seek justice' in Markeith Loyd case

King estimates a dozen sit on Florida death row under his prosecution

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

ORLANDO, Fla. - News 6 spoke to State Attorney Brad King who was appointed Thursday as the special prosecutor in the Markeith Loyd case after Gov. Rick Scott removed State Attorney Aramis Ayala from the case.

Earlier in the day, Ninth Judicial Circuit State Attorney Ayala announced that she would not be pursuing the death penalty for Loyd, who is accused of killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend, 24-year-old Sade Dixon, in Pine Hills on Dec. 13 and Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton at an Orlando Walmart on Jan. 9.

Ayala said she will not pursue the death penalty for any other cases.

Scott originally called for Ayala to recuse herself from the case. When she refused, Scott removed her from the case and assigned it to Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney Brad King in an executive order issued Thursday afternoon.

King, who has been a state attorney since 1989, told News 6 in a phone interview that the governor’s office called to ask if he would take the case and he agreed.

He said he would not comment on Ayala’s decision to not seek the death penalty, but that he plans to seek justice for the victims.

King estimated that about a dozen convicts are on Florida’s death row currently because of him. He has five prosecutors in his office who handle death penalty cases.

King did not say he would be pursing the death penalty in the Loyd case, but explained his process in the decision.

“Based on my years of experience in handling death penalty could we seek a death penalty would be imposed and upheld in the Florida Supreme Court,” King said.

King also had a message to Orlando Police chief John Mina and Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings.

“My intention is to come down there and meet with each of them personally so that they can look me in the eye and that I can explain to them this is what I intend to do,” King said.

King is a former Marion County Sheriff’s Office deputy.

Since Ayala's announcement law enforcement and state officials have been strongly condemning the decision.

Mina said in a statement that he was "extremely upset."

"The heinous crimes that he (Loyd) committed in our community are the very reason that we have the death penalty as an option under the law," Mina said.

Legal questions about Florida's death penalty law during the past year brought executions to a halt.

The U.S. Supreme Court in January 2016 declared the state's death penalty sentencing law unconstitutional because it gave too much power to judges to make the ultimate decision.

The Legislature responded by overhauling the law to let the death penalty be imposed by at least a 10-2 jury vote.

In October, however, the state Supreme Court voted 5-2 to strike down the new law and require unanimous jury decisions for capital punishment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

[Listen to the full News 6 interview with Brad King below]

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