Prosecutor challenges Florida governor after removal from cop killing case

Florida State Attorney Aramis Ayala speaking to reporters on Thursday, March 16, 2017.


ORLANDO, Fla. — A state attorney says Florida’s governor overstepped his authority when he removed her from the prosecution of a man accused of killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend and a police officer after she said she would not pursue the death penalty in any cases.

State Attorney Aramis Ayala made the assertion Monday in a legal motion that asks a judge to allow her to present that argument in court. The motion claims that allowing the governor to interfere could undermine Florida’s judicial system. 

Markeith Loyd is charged with first-degree murder in the killings of Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton and his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Sade Dixon.

Gov. Rick Scott removed Ayala from Loyd’s case and reassigned it to another state attorney after Ayala made her announcement against the death penalty Thursday. 

In the legal motion filed Monday in Orange County, Ayala said that under Florida law, a prosecutor can be removed only if the governor “determines that for good and sufficient reasons....the ends of justice would be best served” by that removal, reports CBS affiliate WKMG.  

She said removal because of a “disagreement over her exercise of discretion” is unprecedented.

A spokeswoman for the governor didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment Monday.