Embattled Orange and Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala is not running for a second term.
The Central Florida Democrat was the subject of the ire of then-Gov. Rick Scott when she suddenly announced in 2017 that she would not pursue the death penalty in any case in her jurisdiction. At the time, she was charged with deciding on whether or not to go for the death penalty for accused cop killer Markeith Loyd. Incensed that she chose not to go for the death penalty in the murder of Loyd’s pregnant girlfriend Sade Dixon and Orlando Police Lieutenant Debra Clayton, Scott stripped Ayala’s office of more than a dozen cases. He turned the prosecutions of those accused murderers over to Fifth Circuit State Attorney Brad King.
In the announcement on her official Facebook page, Ayala pointed to the death penalty is the main reason she will not seek reelection.
“Death penalty law in the state of Florida is in direct conflict with my view and my vision for the administration of justice,” Ayala insisted even though the Florida Supreme Court found Scott had the right to take cases away from her.
Ayala touted her time in office in the three-minute video.
“It was so important to me to make certain we raised the standard of prosecutorial accountability and expanded our thinking as it relates to prosecutorial culture and the traditions within prosecution and the administration of justice,” she insisted.
Ayala pledged to continue to work hard as state attorney and follow the law in all capacities but, when her term ends in November 2020, the first African-American woman to serve as a state attorney in Florida says she will pursue justice in a different capacity.
“I can assure you from the bottom of my heart, the concepts of truth, of justice, of humanity and how I value those has never changed,” she noted.
Ayala’s treatment of her staff and King’s staff have been an issue during her time in office, so much so that top prosecutor Ryan Williams left her office to work on death penalty cases given to King.
Williams filed to run against Ayala in 2020 and he weighed in on her record in a statement sent to Florida Daily on Tuesday.
“While I salute Ms. Ayala’s standing as the first African-American woman elected to the state attorney’s office in Florida, the policies of Ms. Ayala and her administration have been more about headlines rather than justice,” Williams said. “During her tenure, Ms. Ayala has refused to follow the law, and promised policies that ultimately made headlines but had no overall effect on the community. As state attorney, my goal will be to focus on policies that have a real positive impact on the lives of non-violent first offenders, those afflicted by drug addiction, and those who simply make mistakes, allowing us the time and resources to protect the community from violent criminals. As state attorney I will seek to serve the people, not the political agendas of those outside our community. “
Ayala won the 2016 election over former Casey Anthony prosecutor Jeff Ashton, who is now a circuit judge.
Ayala’s full video announcement can be seen here.
Reach Mike Synan at Mike.Synan@floridadaily.com.