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Legislative Black Caucus says it supports Aramis Ayala

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The leader of Florida’s black lawmakers Thursday said Gov. Rick Scott would not have stripped Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala of the Markeith Loyd murder case had she been a white Republican.

“Absolutely not,” Sen. Perry Thurston, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat, told reporters at a news conference in the Capitol. Ayala, a Democrat, is black.

Members of the Legislative Black Caucus decried Scott’s decision to remove Ayala from the case, in which she decided not to pursue the death penalty. Loyd is charged with killing Sade Dixon, his pregnant ex-girlfriend, and Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton.

Lake County State Attorney Brad King has taken over the prosecution, and Ayala – elected to a 4-year term last year – has said she will challenge the governor’s authority to remove her from the case.

Ayala later said she would not seek capital punishment in any cases. A Seminole County Clerk of Court employee was suspended for posting on social media that Ayala should be “tarred and feathered if not hung from a tree.”

“It’s 2017 and the duly elected state attorney is threatened with a lynching,” said Rep. Sean Shaw, a Tampa Democrat. “That’s why we’re here today. The death penalty is a link to the sordid past in Florida where lynching were used to terrorize our communities.”

The caucus’ full press conference can be viewed in a Periscope video below:

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Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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