In Jacksonville Tuesday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott discussed his ongoing war with State Attorney Aramis Ayala.
In March, Scott took the Markeith Loyd murder case away from Ayala, due to her reluctance to pursue the death penalty for the cop killer.
In April, Scott scored another pre-emptive strike: reassigning 21 first-degree murder cases that “represent a horrific loss of life.”
“State Attorney Ayala’s complete refusal to consider capital punishment for the entirety of her term sends an unacceptable message that she is not interested in considering every available option in the fight for justice,” Scott stated Monday.
While those are salient points, there is also a counternarrative emerging from some quarters: namely, that Scott, being hit from the right by the Richard Corcoran wing of the Florida Republican Party, is taking such an aggressive position to shore up his base.
Meanwhile, there is also the question of subverting the mandate of the people who voted Ayala in last year.
When asked these questions, Gov. Scott had the following response.
“First off, this has nothing to do with politics. It has all to do with — think about the victims. This was about three weeks ago now when the State Attorney in Orlando said that she wouldn’t pursue the Markeith Loyd case to the fullest extent of the law. It just personally bothered me,” Scott related.
“Loyd’s accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend. He’s accused of shooting Officer Debra Clayton, a wonderful young lady, and then walking up to her when she’s on the ground, when he could have just driven off, and shooting her multiple times,” Scott added.
“And then the State Attorney says that she’s not going to pursue the case to the fullest extent of the law — that’s wrong,” Scott continued.
“What bothers me is that’s her job. Think about the victims: these are horrendous crimes. Think about the families: how do they feel when somebody says ‘I’m not going to prosecute somebody to the fullest extent of the law’.”
“We sent to Brad King, but there’s no politics in this. This is — what’s the right thing to do,” Scott said.
We asked Scott the question: is it death penalty or nothing for Loyd?
“Brad King will pursue the case to the fullest extent of the law. Whatever happens — you don’t just say you’re not going to pursue things to the fullest extent of the law. It’s the law of the state! Follow the law!”
Scott continued describing Loyd’s murder of Clayton, including using the phrase “pummeling her with bullets.”
We then asked Scott about the concept that the State Attorney has discretion to pursue charges as she sees fit — including not pursuing capital punishment.
“No, they have — it goes to Brad King, and he’ll review it and make the right decision.”