On Monday morning, on the steps of the Orange County Courthouse Attorney Kevin Morenski announced he would be challenging Orange Osceola County State Attorney Aramis Ayala for reelection in 2020. The announcement comes the week after Ayala announced she would not be seeking the death penalty in the Markeith Loyd case involving the death of the OPD Lieutenant Debra Clayton, and his former girlfriend Sade Dixon, who was pregnant at the time of her death.
Morenski began by questioning Ayala’s commitment to her oath and serving the people of the community.
“Unfortunately, this past week we learned that Aramis Ayala is not that person when she announced she will not follow the law and that her opinions matter more than the opinions of our legislators and the opinion of you the people.” said Morenski “I care too much about this community to sit on the sidelines and allow this injustice to take place.”
Ayala’s challenger also slammed her predecessor Jeff Ashton, over the decisions made during his time in office and the Ashley Madison data leak which included his name among those users who’s information was listed.
Morenski also included his Republican affiliation in his remarks. The local GOP has typically ignored the office over the past two decades and did not field a candidate in the previous contest between Ayala and Ashton.
Former Prosecutor Ken Lewis, who was released by the State Attorney’s office because of controversial social media posts was on hand and tabbed as Morenski’s Chief Assistant, should he take office. Lewis’ experience, which includes over 50 murder trials, will shore up Morenski’s credentials which date back to 2013.
“If you’re not assembling a powerful team, you’re not going to get anything done, and that’s been demonstrated.” added Morenski.
Ayala’s decision not to seek the death penalty in the Loyd case or any other cases for the time being, set off emotional responses from around the state with local law enforcement leaders like OPD Chief John Mina, and Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, critical of the decision and human rights and religious organizations defending Ayala.
On Thursday evening, Governor Rick Scott pulled Ayala from the case and reassigned it to Lake County State Attorney Brad King. Both men said that the decision played a major part in the early announcement.
“We have an emergency situation here.” said Lewis “When you have a Governor recusing someone from a major case, somebody who never gave their intentions in their campaign over what they were going to do with the death penalty, and drops a bomb like this, I would expect that other people are thinking about coming forward as well.”