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Will the real State Attorney please stand up?



By Greg Jackson, Esq.

Greg Jackson

Listen, I approached this with an open mind, and I promise that I really, really tried to understand what in the world Orange County State Attorney, Aramis Ayala, is going through. In case you missed the breaking news story at eleven this morning, Ms. Ayala announced that not only will she refuse to seek the death penalty against alleged (actual) murderer, Markeith Loyd, but she will also refuse to seek the death penalty in any murder case in Orange County, no matter the circumstances or severity. Even in a case where a man guns down a woman and her unborn child in cold blood, attempts to murder a young man in the prime of his life, then executes a decorated, respected police officer on the street, Ms. Ayala announced that the death penalty is off the table -- period.

To place an absolute moratorium on seeking the death penalty in any case that warrants such consideration is unfathomable. Yes, I heard her say that the cost to house death row inmates is astronomical, but what does that have to do with her office? When was the last time you heard a quarterback say “I am not throwing any passes over 30 yards because more people will come to the game and hot dog prices at the stadium will increase." That sounds ridiculous, right? Well so does Ms. Ayala’s argument about the cost to house inmates. That has nothing to do with her department’s budget.

Then I heard her say that the death penalty is not a deterrent. Well, I beg to differ. There are a lot of bosses, pizza delivery drivers and clowns (real and figurative) that are still walking around because folks know if they killed them in a fit of rage they would go to jail and possibly be put to death. While I have made a serious situation slightly humorous, I truly believe that for some of the population they do not kill people because they do not want to face the death penalty. Based on Ms. Ayala's logic, one could argue that we should stop arresting people and trying them for crimes because that does not deter people from committing crimes. However, thankfully, that has not stopped law enforcement from doing its jobs apprehending criminals, or even Ms. Ayala from doing parts of her job, which is to try criminals who are arrested.

I also heard Ms. Ayala say that families would not get the closure they wanted if the person who murdered their loved one were put to death, but the last time I checked death pretty much closes out the book of life. What does not allow for closure is a murderer who receives three meals a day, while the person they killed lies in a grave. What does not allow for closure is a murderer getting visits from their loved ones in prison, while the families and friends of the person murdered cry over a gravesite. What does not allow for closure is a murderer getting book and movie deals, while the person they killed is memorialized on a t-shirt.

Ms. Ayala’s stance as the top prosecutor in our county to never seek the death penalty is irresponsible and selfish. I found it interesting that she used the words "I", "me" and "my" more than she did "we" "us" or "together" during her manifesto, I mean statement. Moreover, if she would have run on the platform that she would never seek the death penalty, it is doubtful that she could have defeated even a flawed, Jeff Ashton, who had no problem seeking the death penalty. As Ms. Ayala stood boldly and confidently this morning declaring her research as the gold-standard of what this community needs, I am pleased to see that one person was not asleep at the switch – Governor Rick Scott. Quite possibly, Governor Scott looked at Orange County and saw a State Attorney refusing to even consider all statutory options available to dispense justice and he felt enough is enough. In a move that Ms. Ayala probably did not anticipate, Governor Scott has appointed Lake County State Attorney Brad King as the special prosecutor to do Ms. Ayala's job --handle the murder cases of Markeith Loyd and seek the death penalty for his unconscionable, violently murderous acts. Unlike the many supporters of Ms. Ayala, Governor Scott rightly determined that it was not her job to do away with the death penalty in the State of Florida, much less Orange County, Florida.

I am certain that this is not the last that we will hear of this matter or of Ms. Ayala, but I am sure there is now some clarity on the expectations of our elected officials to do their jobs to the best of their abilities, despite politics or their personal opinions – in my humble opinion.

Greg Jackson is a former Assistant Attorney General for the State of Florida, military veteran, current Orange County District 2 Representative on the Board of Zoning Adjustments, and General Counsel for the Community Redevelopment Agency. He has been as an active member of the Central Florida community for nearly 20 years. He was most recently a candidate for the Florida House District 45 seat.

Greg Jackson


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