I want to address some of the inaccurate and misleading statements regarding a case and the work we do in my office.
When I made my March 16th statement indicating that I was not seeking the death penalty, I was prepared to file death notices in appropriate cases to preserve any procedural deadline. However, on his own accord, Governor Scott made a public statement committing himself to reviewing all first- degree murder cases that occurred here in the 9th Circuit. Governor Scott further pledged to the public he would reassign any potential death penalty cases to a different circuit.
Once the Florida Supreme Court issued its ruling regarding a Prosecutor’s discretion to seek 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 on January 3. I requested the Panel go back to the beginning of my administration to ensure Governor Scott did not make a mistake and miss cases, which he clearly did.
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.
Consistent with his public statement of reviewing and reassigning all potential death penalty cases, the Governor reassigned cases in April, July and August. Unfortunately, the Governor failed to reassign this case or even acknowledge its potential as a death penalty case despite the fact the murder occurred on April 11, 2017 and has seven potential aggravators.
It is clear, the Governor failed in his review and missed this case.
The Death Penalty Review Panel met, discussed this case and unanimously recognized it as an obvious death case.
The State’s ability to seek 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.
State Attorney Aramis Ayala