Florida State Attorney Aramis Ayala Consulted With Anti-Death Penalty Groups On Markeith Loyd Case

Aramis Ayala consulted with anti-death penalty groups on the Markeith Loyd case.

Aramis Ayala consulted with anti-death penalty groups on the Markeith Loyd case.

Aramis Ayala Discussed Strategy On Markeith Loyd Case With Anti-Death Penalty Groups

Orlando, FL –  A local news station discovered that Florida State Attorney Aramis Ayala consulted with anti-death penalty groups, who coached her on what to say.

News 6 reported on Tuesday, April 11, that it had obtained a copy of the email, which was sent to Aramis Ayala by Miriam Krinsky, a former federal prosecutor, and current executive director of Fair and Just Prosecution.

Two other people were copied on that February 14 email: Rob Smith, a former law professor, and the director of Harvard Law School’s Fair Punishment Project, and Stefanie Faucher, whose email address ends with 8thamendment.org, a web site proclaiming in bold letters that the death penalty is unconstitutional.  Smith is also the litigation director for the 8th Amendment Project.

And it was on March 16 that Aramis Ayala held a press conference stating that she would not seek the death penalty for Loyd.

In the email, Krinsky writes to Aramis Ayala that she wanted to send a few thoughts about what they had discussed earlier that evening.  She wrote that it was important not to say anything that would create push-back or counter-pressure before she was ready to announce.

Krinsky also wrote specific bullet points for Aramis Ayala to use in the February 16 press conference.  They appear to be well-worded replies to questions that she could have been asked from reporters, i.e., answers that don’t provide answers.

One example was if a reporter asked Aramis Ayala the following question:  “What do you intend to do as part of your deliberative process in the coming weeks on this issue?  According to the email, she should answer as follows:  “I’m listening, and I’m weighing all of the evidence.”

In the February 16 press conference, the State Attorney announced additional charges against Markeith Loyd.  She said that she was waiting on new law from the legislature and that would decide whether she would seek the death penalty.

When contacted by News6, Aramis Ayala’s public information officer refused to answer as to whether it was inappropriate to share case information with outside or special interest groups.  In an email to News6, her spokeswoman said that from the time Aramis Ayala had taken office that she had been researching the death penalty with people on all sides of the issue, and that she came to a decision shortly before her March 16 announcement.

News 6 showed the email to Rafael Zaldivar, the father of murdered teenager Alex Zaldivar.  He said “She was obviously preparing and they were coaching her what to say and what not to say, like they were expecting she was not going to apply the death penalty.”  Rafael Zaldivar also said he is worried that Aramis Ayala will reduce his son’s killer Bessman Okafor’s punishment to life in prison.

He said “I need to fight for my son, she’s not fighting for my son, not Debra Clayton.  Why is she having these conversations with these people? She is the top cop in Central Florida. Why does she need to talk to them about? Why are they telling her you need to say this or that, be careful what you say.”

Rafael Zaldivar wants the Justice Department to investigate Aramis Ayala’s phone calls, emails, and outside influences.

Florida State Representative Bob Cortes said that he was not surprised by the emails and wants Governor Rick Scott to remove her from office.  He said “She’s not acting alone. There’s a larger conspiracy behind her decision [to not seek the death penalty].”

Neither Krimsky nor Smith would respond to direct questions from News6 about whether it was inappropriate for Aramis Ayala to share details of cases with them.

Aramis Ayala’s job is to represent the state, not her personal beliefs. Representing the state involves following state law, which includes seeking the death penalty in heinous murder cases.

It appears that she has shared details of at least one case with outside non-objective groups.  That at the very least is unethical. I agree with Rafael Zaldivar that the Justice Department should investigate Aramis Ayala.