On Wednesday, Florida Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty officially announced their formation at a press conference in front of the Orange County Courthouse. The group is a collective of Conservatives from around the state who oppose the death penalty for various reason such as conflicts with moral values and cost to the taxpayers.
“Part of my faith is that I believe that all life is sacred, even those who have committed the gravest of crimes.” said Orange County Conservative Brian Empric, who’s held officer roles with different groups around the state “Its a faith that is grounded in mercy and healing, not punishment for it’s own sake.”
Other speakers on the program included public defenders, former law enforcement officers, college students and Libertarians, all who say the death penalty costs Floridians over $51 million dollars a year.
Despite holding the press conference at the Orange County Courthouse, the group disputed that it had anything to do with the current controversy involving Orange Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala and the ongoing court case regarding Governor Rick Scott’s decision to remove her from over 20 death penalty cases, including the Markeith Loyd case. Ayala and Scott are due in front of the Florida Supreme Court later this month.
Rafael Zaldivar, who’s son was murdered by Bessman Okafor in 2012, was on hand for the press conference and challenged the groups conservative credentials. Scott recently removed Ayala from the Okafor case.
“This is a fake conservative group. They have a different agenda. It has nothing to do with the death penalth” said Zaldivar, reaffirming his objective “The goal is to keep Bessman Okafor in a 6 by 9 on death row. They’re a bunch of liberal fruitcakes trying to be conservative. They’re not.”