COMPILED FROM WIRE REPORTS
ORLANDO – More than two years after she created a firestorm by saying she would not seek the death penalty, Central Florida State Attorney Aramis Ayala announced Tuesday she will not run for re-election in 2020.
Her decision may open up a lane for retired Circuit Court Judge Belvin Perry, the current chairman of Bethune-Cookman University’s Board of Trustees, to succeed her, according to reliable Florida Courier sources in Central Florida.
Perry is an experienced former prosecutor and felony trial judge who has tried or presided over numerous notable high-profile criminal cases during his 30-year legal career.
Ayala was elected in 2016 as state attorney in the 9th Judicial Circuit, which is made up of Orange and Osceola counties.
But in March 2017, she sparked a controversy – and a legal battle with then Gov. Rick Scott – by saying she would not pursue the death penalty in capital cases. Scott removed Ayala from handling capital cases, which he reassigned to Ocala-area State Attorney Brad King.
Ayala challenged the decision, but the Florida Supreme Court later backed Scott. Ayala, the state’s first elected Black state attorney, announced her decision to not seek a second term in a video posted on Facebook. She touted accomplishments such as expanding diversity in her office.
But she said that “after the Florida Supreme Court’s decision on the death penalty, it became abundantly clear to me that death-penalty law in the state Florida is in direct conflict with my view and my vision for the administration of justice. Now, as state attorney, those views will not impact the administration of law, and I will continue to follow the law. But I also realize that it’s time for me to move forward and to continue the pursuit of justice in a different capacity.”
Information from the News Service of Florida was used to prepare this report.