death penalty

Less than six months into state attorney Aramis Ayala’s term, the Legislature voted to cut $1.3 million from her budget and she says that decision is having an impact on her office's ability to fight human trafficking.

The move came after Ayala announced she would not pursue the death penalty, and after Gov. Rick Scott subsequently reassigned two dozen ninth circuit murder cases to fifth circuit state attorney, Bradley King.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has scheduled the state's first execution in more than 18 months.

Executions have been on hold in Florida since the U.S. Supreme Court deemed parts of the state's sentencing procedure unconstitutional in January 2016.

That same month, Scott first signed a death warrant for Mark Asay, as member station WFSU reported. Now, "in a letter to the prison warden, Scott is setting Thursday, August 24 for Mark Asay's execution."

Scott Keeler/Tampa Bay Times via AP

The Florida Supreme Court is ordering new sentencing hearings for four inmates currently on the state's death row.

The high court on Thursday threw out the sentences because a jury did not unanimously recommend the death penalty. Last year the court ruled death sentences have to be unanimous, which the court put in place in response to U.S. Supreme Court rulings.

 

The state court said anyone sentenced after a 2002 ruling could be eligible for a new sentence.

The Florida Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday in a legal dispute over the death penalty that pits a local prosecutor against the governor.

At issue is whether Gov. Rick Scott has the authority to remove cases from State Attorney Aramis Ayala of Orlando because she won't seek the death penalty.

WMFE

The dispute between Governor Rick Scott and Orange-Osceola state attorney Aramis Ayala over the death penalty advances to state Supreme Court Wednesday morning with oral arguments. Attorneys for both sides will have twenty minutes to argue whether it was legal for Governor Scott to take two dozen murder cases from Ayala’s office and reassign them to fifth circuit prosecutor Brad King.

The US Supreme Court is refusing to take up a further challenge in Florida’s precedent setting capital case Hurst v. Florida.

Florida Department of Corrections

The Supreme Court has left in place a lower court ruling that said imposing a death sentence in Florida requires a unanimous jury.

The justices on Monday turned away an appeal from Florida officials seeking to overturn the ruling last year from the state’s highest court.

The Florida Supreme Court had struck down a newly enacted law allowing a defendant to be sentenced to death as long as 10 out of 12 jurors recommend it. That ruling concluded that Timothy Lee Hurst — convicted of a 1998 murder at a Pensacola Popeye’s restaurant— deserves a new sentencing hearing.

A former Air Force sergeant on death row for the murders of an ex-girlfriend and their son will be set free after the Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that there was no physical evidence to convict him and that prosecutors failed to look at others who may have had a motive to kill them.

Associated Press

Florida legislators plan to take more than $1 million and 21 jobs away from a state prosecutor who announced she won't seek the death penalty any more.

Top Republicans announced the plan on Wednesday, the same day an association of Florida prosecutors said that Gov. Rick Scott can legally take away almost two dozen cases from State Attorney Aramis Ayala in Orlando for refusing to seek the death penalty.

Ayala has said previously that the planned $1.3 million cut and loss of jobs could severely impact her office's ability to prosecute crimes.

Arkansas, which has been in a race to execute death-row inmates before a key lethal drug expires, plans to hold its final execution in the series Thursday night.

Attorneys for the condemned men have put forth arguments about their innocence, intellectual abilities, mental states and about the execution procedure.

But what happens to those debates after an execution?

Ledell Lee was the first inmate executed this month in Arkansas. There was scant physical evidence tying him to the murder he was convicted of, and he was never given a DNA test before his execution.

Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala has sued Gov. Rick Scott, challenging his ability to remove her from death penalty cases.
WMFE

Florida’s highest court will wait to hear all arguments before deciding if the state’s governor had the right to take away cases from a prosecutor who says her office won’t seek the death penalty.

State Attorney Aramis Ayala had asked for an emergency ruling, but the Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday denied that request for a temporary order pending a full review of the case by the court.

The justices said they would issue a decision after both sides had made all their arguments.

In a time of high drama over executions in Arkansas, the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Monday in a case that could determine the fate of two of the condemned men in the Razorback state, as well as others on death row elsewhere.

At issue is whether an indigent defendant whose sanity is a significant factor in his trial, is entitled to assistance from a mental health expert witness who is independent of the prosecutors.

The swirl of controversy after the decision by Orange County State Attorney Aramis Ayala not to apply the death penalty in cases assigned to her has filtered down to a discussion of cases on Florida's death row.

Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala has sued Gov. Rick Scott, challenging his ability to remove her from death penalty cases.
WMFE

Dozens of prosecutors and judges from around the nation have filed a legal brief in support of a Florida prosecutor who refuses to seek the death penalty.

The brief filed Friday with the Florida Supreme Court backs State Attorney Aramis Ayala’s right to decide not to seek capital punishment in cases in her district covering the Orlando area.

After Ayala recently announced her decision, Florida Gov. Rick Scott removed her from about two dozen death-penalty cases.

Ayala is challenging Scott’s authority to do that before the Florida Supreme Court.

The Florida Supreme Court is allowing the House to support Gov. Rick Scott in the lawsuit brought by Orlando prosecutor Aramis Ayala. Ayala has filed both a federal and state lawsuit against Scott.

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