New twists in the battle between Orlando’s State Attorney Aramis Ayala and Gov. Rick Scott after she agreed to prosecute death penalty cases; Scott is accusing her of missing a filing deadline, and Ayala responding Monday that Scott missed the case, and it will still be filed for capital punishment.
“It is absolutely outrageous that Aramis Ayala failed to seek justice in the case against Emerita Mapp who is accused of attacking multiple people and killing Zackery Ganoe,” Scott declared Friday, contending that she missed an Oct. 7 deadline to file death penalty provisions against Mapp.
The governor has made misleading and inaccurate statements,” Ayala responded Monday.
“It is clear, the governor failed in his review and missed this case,” Ayala responded in a statement Monday afternoon, charging that Scott would have only himself to blame had the case missed the deadline, since he had been monitoring her caseload and was grabbing away all the death penalty cases and re-assigning them to another state attorney well into August, but overlooked this one.
Not so fast, Scott’s office replied to Ayala’s statement.
“It is outrageous State Attorney Ayala is attempting to pass the blame for her failure. Let’s be clear — State Attorney Ayala failed to meet this deadline, and she alone is responsible for not fighting for justice for the victims in this case,” McKinley Lewis, Scott’s deputy director of communications declared.
But the deadline did not pass, Ayala insisted Monday, and she declared she still intends to pursue the death penalty against Mapp.
“The state’s ability to seek the death penalty has not been compromised, and with the filing of the Notice of Intent to Seek Death, we have preserved the issue and remedied the governor’s failure,” she said.
A newly-sworn-in 9th Judicial State attorney, Ayala had denounced Florida’s death penalty on March 16 as unjust for anyone, due to its lengthy delays, high costs, and tendency to be ruled unconstitutional. Scott vehemently disagreed, and the two spent the next five months battling in court over who could do what, while he stripped death penalty cases from her jurisdiction and reassigned them to State Attorney Brad King of Florida’s 5th Judicial Circuit.
In August, the Florida Supreme Court sided with Scott, and Ayala announced a new policy in which she would have a panel within her office, which did not include her, review all murder cases and make determinations on whether her office would pursue the death penalty.
Ayala is chief prosecutor for Orange and Osceola counties.
On Aug. 31, she announced the Mapp case would be the first death penalty pursued under her new policy. The case involves an April 11 murder in an Osceola County hotel.
But on Friday Scott announced that Ayala had missed the legally-required 45-day deadline to file the death penalty case against Mapp.
“I have been clear that I stand with the victims of crime and their families and they deserve answers from the State Attorney’s Office on how this critical deadline was not met. I’ll continue to review reassigning cases from her office since she is failing to fight for victims and their families,” he insisted.
Her response came late Monday:
“Once the Florida Supreme Court issued its ruling regarding a Prosecutor’s discretion to seek the death penalty, I created a Death Penalty Review Panel to review every first-degree murder case. At my direction, once they convened they reviewed every first-degree murder case since the start of my administration Jan. 3. I requested the panel go back to the beginning of my administration to ensure Gov. Scott did not make a mistake and miss cases, which he clearly did,” she wrote.
“Of course, I knew the potential of some of those cases passing the 45-days. This is something the Review Panel discussed prior to reviewing cases. The issue was well researched, so again this was an anticipated hurdle. But it was the right thing to do and consistent with the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling,” she continued
“The state’s ability to seek the death penalty has not been compromised, and with the filing of the Notice of Intent to Seek Death, we have preserved the issue and remedied the governor’s failure,” she concluded.