• Accused Orlando cop killer's case assigned to new state attorney: Jacksonville sheriff, mother react

    By: Deanna Bettineschi, Action News Jax


    ORLANDO, Fla. - State attorney Aramis Ayala announced Thursday that she would not be pursuing the death penalty against double murder suspect Markeith Loyd, which sparked outrage and debate.

    “The death penalty has no public safety benefit, there's no evidence death sentence cases actually protect the public,” Ayala said.

    Loyd is accused of shooting and killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon in December and Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton in January. He was captured after a nine-day manhunt.

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    Action News Jax crime and safety expert and former Jacksonville Sheriff's Officer Ken Jefferson said he and other officers were upset by the decision.

    “He’s a menace to society and a monster and to say that you want us, the taxpayers, to house him, feed him, clothe him, for the rest of his life, is an atrocity,” Jefferson said.

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott is also against Ayala’s decision.

    Scottt asked Ayala to recuse herself from prosecuting Loyd and after he said she refused, Scott removed her from the case and assigned it to state attorney Brad King.

    Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams also issued statement that said in part, “I want to acknowledge Governor Rick Scott for his swift action in addressing this matter by reassigning the case to another circuit.”

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    While many were upset with Ayala's decision, Jacksonville mother Darlen Farah supported her decision and sent us a statement saying in part:

    “After the murder of my daughter Shelby Farah in Jacksonville, my children and I experienced firsthand the death penalty's destructive effects on surviving family members as we endured 3.5 years of delays without a trial even starting.”


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