A coalition of Religious and Civil Rights groups were on the steps of the Orange County Courthouse on Friday afternoon, to defend Orange Osceola County State Attorney Aramis Ayala for not seeking the death penalty in the case of Markeith Loyd, who is accused of kiling OPD Lieutenant Debra Clayton, and his former girlfriend, Sade Dixon, who was pregnant at the time of her death.
The list of Speakers included representatives from churches from Central Florida, leaders of political groups and the mothers of children who were also the victims of a murder. Each of them took turns commending Ayala.
“We have one State Attorney and there will be more coming if our prayers are answered are heard, who will say ‘We can stop killing people’ that killing people because they killed somebody doesn’t stop killing people” said Dr. Russell Meyer, Executive Director of the Florida Council of Churches.
Ayala announced her decision not to seek the death penalty in the Loyd case or any other cases at the same location just 24 hours beforehand, setting off a series of emotional responses from around the state. The Orange Osceola State Attorney who was elected last November cited problems with the state’s current regulations regarding the death penalty and studies that it doesn’t deter further crime or keep the public any safer.
The decision set off a string of emotional responses from all over the state including here in Central Florida where the announcement was poorly received from Orlando Police Chief John Mina, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, and the Fraternal Order of Police.
Florida Governor Rick Scott then asked Ayala to recuse herself from the case, after she refused, Scott removed her from the case and reassigned to Brad King, who represents Lake County and the surrounding areas.
The final speaker of the program was Stephanie Dixon-Daniels, the mother of Sade Dixon, who supports Ayala’s decision and believed it was a better alternative than returning to court through each step of the appeals process.
“Life without possibility of parole. He will die in prison. He will never see the light of day again” said Dixon-Daniels “Life in prison is not like life out here. If he doesn’t die of natural causes, I’m sure he will be tortured and remembered because of this hideous crime for killing my daughter and her unborn child.”