MIAMI Reaction is still coming in from around Florida to the announcement by 9th Circuit State Attorney Aramis Ayala not to pursue death penalty cases, including the two murders charged to Markeith Loyd for the deaths of his ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon and Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton. Professor Scott Sundby of the University of Miami School of Law issued this statement on Friday: - "Local prosecutors are elected officials for very good reason – decisions over how a crime should be prosecuted is an intensely local concern reflecting a community’s values and priorities. The voters in Ayala’s circuit elected her because they decided that she represented their unique concerns. After careful and painstaking consideration, Ayala concluded that pursuing the death penalty was not an appropriate sentence in the Markeith Loyd case or as a policy for her community. Now the governor seeks to upend her role as the prosecutor for her community and impose his own policies on Orlando. The governor’s action sets a dangerous precedent by taking away the constitutional discretion that is granted to local prosecutors and disenfranchising Floridians’ from electing local officials who reflect local values. This grants a governor boundless power to interfere in local criminal-justice affairs simply because he disagrees with the prosecutor’s charging decision. These decisions need to be made locally not through an edict from Tallahassee."
The ACLU plans to rally in support of Ayala outside the Orange County Courthouse in downtown Orlando on Friday. Also there, Rafael Zaldivar, the father of a young man murdered in 2012 on the day before he was supposed to testify about a home invasion. Bessman Okafor was convicted for that crime and sentenced to death, but is getting a rehearing and possible retrial.