ORLANDO, Fla. – The fight over whether Florida's governor can take away an officer-killing case from a prosecutor because she no longer will seek the death penalty in any cases is returning to a courtroom in Orlando.
A hearing will take place Tuesday in the case of Markeith Loyd, who is charged with murdering an Orlando police lieutenant and Loyd's pregnant ex-girlfriend.
Gov. Rick Scott took the case away from State Attorney Aramis Ayala in Orlando earlier this month after she announced she wouldn't seek the death penalty in Loyd's case or any future cases. Ayala, who is the first elected African-American state attorney in Florida, said during her announcement that there is no evidence that shows the death penalty improves public safety for citizens or law enforcement, and it's costly and drags on for years for the victims' families.
The governor reassigned the case to State Attorney Brad King who works in a neighboring district.
Ayala argued that the governor doesn't have the authority to remove her. She said in a court motion that Scott's actions are unprecedented and his interference in the decision-making by state attorneys could undermine Florida's judicial system.
King said he is the authorized prosecutor for the case. He said Ayala had no authority to represent the state of Florida when she filed a motion to temporarily halt Loyd's case so that Circuit Judge Frederick Lauten could hear arguments about which prosecutor should handle the case.
Loyd is charged with first-degree murder in the killings of his ex-girlfriend, Sade Dixon, and Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton.