Death penalty dispute goes to Florida Supreme Court

In a press conference on the steps of the Orange County Courthouse, Florida Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala announces Thursday, March 16, 2017, that her office will no longer pursue the death penalty as a sentence in any case brought before the 9th Judicial Circuit of Florida. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP)/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s power to strip a prosecutor of murder cases because she won’t seek the death penalty will be tested before the state Supreme Court.

State Attorney Aramis Ayala is asking the court to block Scott from assigning her Orlando-area murder cases to a neighboring prosecutor.

Justices will hear arguments Wednesday in the dispute that began in March when Ayala said she wouldn’t seek the death penalty against Markeith Loyd, who is charged with the fatal shooting of an Orlando police officer, or any other death case.

Scott said he reassigned the cases because Ayala isn’t following Florida law. Ayala argues that Scott doesn’t have the right to take the cases from her because she’s independently elected.

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