Judge Sides With Florida Governor In Removal Of Prosecutor

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ORLANDO (CBSMiami/AP) — Once again the death penalty has become a polarizing issue in a high-profile murder case.

Florida’s governor has the right to remove a state attorney from a case after the prosecutor said she would not seek the death penalty, a judge said Tuesday as he denied a request to delay the proceedings.

State Attorney Aramis Ayala said earlier this month that she wouldn’t seek the death penalty for a man charged in the December slayings of his ex-girlfriend and a police officer.

After her announcement, Republican Gov. Rick Scott removed her from the case and appointed a new prosecutor.

Ayala, a Democrat, said the governor overstepped his authority and she is fighting to keep the case. Ayala has said there is no evidence that shows the death penalty improves public safety and it’s costly and drags on for years for the victims’ families.

She asked a judge to delay proceedings for two weeks while she prepares an argument for the Florida Supreme Court. But Chief Justice Frederick J. Lauten denied her request Tuesday and said State Attorney Brad King, who was appointed by the governor, will remain as the chief prosecutor.

The judge said Ayala can still file her argument with the high court, but the case against Markeith Loyd would move ahead, with the next hearing scheduled for Monday. Loyd is charged with the first-degree murder in the killings of his pregnant ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon and Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton.

Loyd, who has previously cursed at judges during previous court appearances, was subdued during the hearing Tuesday. He objected to Ayala being removed from the case.

Ayala, who is the first elected African-American state attorney in Florida, said in court documents that the governor’s actions are unprecedented and his interference in the decision-making by state attorneys could undermine Florida’s judicial system.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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