Murder cases yanked from Soros-backed Florida pros­e­cu­tor.

Re­fuses to seek death for ac­cused cop killer

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY VA­LERIE RICHARD­SON

A Florida pros­e­cu­tor elected with $1 mil­lion from lib­eral bil­lion­aire Ge­orge Soros has been re­moved from all first-de­gree murder cases af­ter re­fus­ing to seek the death penalty for any sus­pect, in­clud­ing an ac­cused cop killer.

State At­tor­ney Aramis Ayala, who won an up­set vic­tory in Novem­ber af­ter re­ceiv­ing $1.38 mil­lion from the Soros-backed Florida Safety & Jus­tice PAC, had 21 first-de­gree murder cases in Orange and Osce­ola coun­ties re­as­signed Mon­day to other pros­e­cu­tors by Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Repub­li­can.

His ex­ec­u­tive or­der came af­ter she an­nounced she would not seek the death penalty against Markeith Loyd, who has been charged in the mur­ders of his preg­nant ex-girl­friend Sade Dixon in De­cem­ber and Or­lando po­lice Lt. De­bra Clay­ton in Jan­uary, or any other de­fen­dants.

An­other of­fi­cer, Orange County sher­iff’s Deputy Nor­man Lewis, died in a Jan. 9 car crash dur­ing the hunt for the 41-year-old Loyd.

“While I cur­rently do have dis­cre­tion to pur­sue death sen­tences, I have de­ter­mined that do­ing so is not in the best in­ter­est of this com­mu­nity or in the best in­ter­ests of jus­tice,” said Ms. Ayala, a Demo­crat, at her March 16 press con­fer­ence.

Mr. Scott re­sponded by re­as­sign­ing the Loyd case to a pros­e­cu­tor in an­other cir­cuit. He said his de­ci­sion this week to fol­low up by re­mov­ing the 21 cases was made “in the in­ter­est of jus­tice.”

“Each of these cases I am re­as­sign­ing rep­re­sents a hor­rific loss of life,” Mr. Scott said in a state­ment. “The fam­i­lies who trag­i­cally lost some­one de­serve a state at­tor­ney who will take the time to re­view ev­ery in­di­vid­ual fact and cir­cum­stance be­fore mak­ing such an im­pact­ful de­ci­sion.”

Mean­while, Ms. Ayala has re­fused to back down, ac­cus­ing the gov­er­nor of abus­ing his power. Her at­tor­ney, Roy Austin, told WKMG-TV in Or­lando that she plans to fight the gov­er­nor’s or­der.

“Ms. Ayala re­mains stead­fast in her po­si­tion the gov­er­nor is abus­ing his au­thor­ity and has com­pro­mised the in­de­pen­dence and in­tegrity of the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem,” spokes­woman Eryka Washington said Mon­day in a state­ment to WFTVTV in Or­lando.

Ms. Ayala was one of at least 11 can­di­dates for pros­e­cu­tor in 2015 and 2016 who re­ceived gen­er­ous con­tri­bu­tions from a net­work of state Safety & Jus­tice com­mit­tees funded by Mr. Soros, a staunch op­po­nent of the death penalty and sup­porter of the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment.

Nine of the 11 can­di­dates, most of whom were black or His­panic, in 10 states won their races thanks in part to hefty warch­ests that of­ten dwarfed those of their op­po­nents.

Ms. Ayala’s Soros fund­ing be­came an is­sue dur­ing the cam­paign when her Demo­cratic pri­mary op­po­nent, in­cum­bent Jeff Ash­ton, ac­cused her of try­ing to buy the office, while she de­nied be­ing un­der the thumb of the lib­eral bil­lion­aire.

“I am not a pup­pet, never have been a pup­pet and there is no one pulling my strings. I made the in­de­pen­dent de­ci­sion to run for state at­tor­ney be­cause I want the job,” Ms. Ayala told News13 in Or­lando.

Ten­sions in Florida over her stance are run­ning high. A Semi­nole County clerk’s office em­ployee re­signed last month af­ter say­ing on Face­book that Ms. Ayala “should be tarred and feath­ered if not hung from a tree.”

Mean­while, GOP state Rep. Bob Cortes said he re­ceived a threat on Face­book from some­one call­ing him a “traitor” and warn­ing his fam­ily was “not safe” af­ter he and sev­eral other Repub­li­can leg­is­la­tors called Wed­nes­day on the gov­er­nor to re­place Ms. Ayala.

“Ba­si­cally, they were in dis­agree­ment of what po­si­tion I took, and they called me a traitor and that my fam­ily was in dan­ger,” Mr. Cortes told WFTVTV, adding that he had con­tacted law en­force­ment.

Among those in Ms. Ayala’s cor­ner are the NAACP Le­gal De­fense and Ed­u­ca­tional Fund and the Florida Leg­isla­tive Black Cau­cus, whose mem­bers held a press con­fer­ence last month blast­ing Mr. Scott’s de­ci­sion to pull the Loyd case “an un­fet­tered and un­in­formed power grab.”

“Gov­er­nor Scott’s hasty re­sponse to State At­tor­ney Ayala’s an­nounce­ment set a dan­ger­ous prece­dent and is a slap in the face of the vot­ers who car­ried her into office,” Demo­cratic state Sen. Perry Thurston, chair­man of the black cau­cus, said in the Tampa Times.

Ms. Ayala is the first elected black state at­tor­ney in Florida his­tory, but there is no racial divi­sion in the Loyd case. The sus­pect is black, as were his girl­friend and the two of­fi­cers who died.

In his Mon­day state­ment, Mr. Scott ar­gued that the cases re­moved from Ms. Ayala’s office in­volved heinous ag­gra­vat­ing cir­cum­stances, mak­ing them el­i­gi­ble for death-penalty con­sid­er­a­tion.

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