Florida governor reassigns cop-killing case after prosecutor refuses death penalty

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 December 13 and Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton at an Orlando Walmart on January 9.

By late afternoon, Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, had asked her to recuse herself from that case, and when she refused, he issued an executive order reassigning it to a special prosecutor from another county, because Ayala "has made it clear that she will not fight for justice".

This comes hours after Ayala held a press conference announcing she would not be seeking the death penalty against Loyd for the death of OPD Lieutenant Debra Clayton and his former girlfriend Sade Dixon who was pregnant at the time of her death. The governor nearly immediately asked her to recuse herself from the Loyd case.

"I have seen the video of Markeith Loyd executing Lt. Debra Clayton while she lay defenseless on the ground", Mina said in a statement.

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

Loyd is charged with killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend and Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton.

State law gives state attorneys broad discretion to determine how best to pursue each case, including whether or not to seek the death penalty.

Legal Expert Anthony Rickman says the death penalty is meant for the worst of the worst, and the crimes for which Markeith Loyd is accused, fit the bill.

Ayala said the penalty does not provide justice to victim's families, who often get dragged through years of court appeals.

Shortly after Clayton was shot, Orange County motorcycle deputy Norman Lewis was struck and killed by a motorist while responding to the manhunt for Loyd.

Orlando Police Chief John Mina released a harsh public statement underscoring his vehement disagreement with the decision, but he and other members of OPD are furious.

"While I now do have discretion to pursue death sentences", Ayala said at a news conference. He has five prosecutors in his office who handle death penalty cases. Attorney General Pam Bondi said Ayala's decision was a "blatant neglect of duty and a shameful failure" to follow the law.

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

"Ending use of the death penalty in Orange County is a step toward restoring a measure of trust and integrity in our criminal justice system", she said.