The Latest: Judge sides with governor in prosecutor removal

AP News
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Posted: Mar 28, 2017 2:02 PM

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on the Florida governor's decision to remove a prosecutor who doesn't want to seek the death penalty in a case involving a police officer killing (all times local):

11:25 a.m.

A judge says Florida's governor can remove a prosecutor from a death penalty-eligible case and has denied a request to delay the proceedings.

State Attorney Aramis Ayala said earlier this month that she wouldn't seek the death penalty for a man charged in the December slayings of his ex-girlfriend and the January killing of a police officer. After her announcement, Republican Gov. Rick Scott removed her from the case.

Ayala, a Democrat, says the governor overstepped his authority and she is fighting to keep the case.

She asked a judge to delay proceedings for two weeks while she prepares an argument for the Florida Supreme Court. But Circuit Judge Frederick J. Lauten denied her request Tuesday.

The case involves Markeith Loyd, who is accused of killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend and an Orlando police lieutenant. Ayala says there is no evidence that shows the death penalty improves public safety. She says it's costly and drags on for years for the victims' families.

Another hearing in the case is scheduled for Monday.

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This story has corrected the judge's title to circuit judge, not chief justice.

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6 a.m.

The fight over whether Florida's governor can take away an officer-killing case from a prosecutor because she no longer will seek the death penalty in any cases is returning to a courtroom in Orlando.

A hearing is taking place Tuesday in the case of Markeith Loyd, who's charged in the killing an Orlando police lieutenant and Loyd's pregnant ex-girlfriend.

Gov. Rick Scott took the case away from State Attorney Aramis Ayala in Orlando earlier this month after she announced she wouldn't seek the death penalty in Loyd's case or any future cases.

The governor reassigned the case to State Attorney Brad King who works in a neighboring district.

Ayala argues that the governor doesn't have the authority to remove her.

King says he's now the authorized prosecutor for the case.