- Associated Press - Friday, March 17, 2017

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - The Latest on the decision by a top prosecutor in Florida to no longer seek the death penalty (all times local):

1:10 p.m.

The mother of one of the victims of a suspect in the killing of a police officer in Florida says she supports the State Attorney’s decision not to seek the death penalty in any case.

Stephanie Dixon-Daniels said Friday that having the death penalty on the table in Markeith Loyd’s case would drag out the process for her family. She spoke at a news conference outside the Orange County Court along with other supporters of State Attorney Aramis Ayala’s decision.

Loyd’s case is perhaps the most high-profile case affected by Ayala’s decision not to seek the death penalty.

Loyd is charged with killing police Lt. Debra Clayton, as well as Dixon-Daniels’ daughter, Sade Dixon, who was Loyd’s pregnant ex-girlfriend.

After Ayala announced her decision Thursday, Gov. Rick Scott transferred the case from her authority to another State Attorney in a neighboring district.


12:35 p.m.

The father of a murder victim is calling for a prosecutor in Florida to resign after she announced her office would no longer seek the death penalty in any case.

Rafael Zaldivar said Friday that State Attorney Aramis Ayala’s decision is part of a political agenda and has no place in the State Attorney’s Office.

Ayala said Thursday that there was no evidence that executing criminals improves public safety or law enforcement.

Zaldivar’s 19-year-old son, Alex, was killed in 2012 by a man who Alex Zaldivar had planned to testify against in a home invasion case. Bessman Okafor was sentenced to death in 2015, but questions over Florida’s death penalty law cast doubt over the sentence.

His case is currently on appeal.


3:30 a.m.

Florida’s governor has rebuked Orlando’s top prosecutor and transferred from her authority a case involving the slaying of a police officer after she announced her opposition to the death penalty.

Signaling he wants the Jan. 9 killing of Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton prosecuted as a capital case, Gov. Rick Scott transferred the first-degree murder case of suspect Markeith Loyd out of the office of State Attorney Aramis Ayala.

The case was assigned to another prosecutor.

Ayala’s unusual stance surprised angered many, including her city’s police chief. But the prosecutor said she concluded there was no evidence that executing criminals improves public safety or law enforcement.

Scott said Ayala “made it clear that she will not fight for justice.” But civil rights advocates praised her.


AP writers Gary Fineout and Curt Anderson contributed to this report.

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