Less than 24 hours after the arrest of a man accused of shooting and killing two Kissimmee police officers, Gov. Rick Scott signed an executive order transferring the criminal case from Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala to Ocala State Attorney Brad King.
Ayala has said she will not seek the death penalty for anyone during her tenure.
Everett Glenn Miller, 45, faces charges including first-degree murder in the deaths of Officer Matthew Baxter and Sgt. Richard “Sam” Howard. He was arrested Friday night.
This is the 27th case Scott has transferred away from Ayala. Ayala sued in April, and is now waiting for the Florida Supreme Court to issue an opinion regarding whether Scott had the authority to transfer the cases.
“I am using my executive authority to reassign this case to State Attorney Brad King to ensure the victims of last night’s attack and their families receive the justice they deserve,” Scott said in a statement.
Attorney General Pam Bondi issued a statement siding with Scott.
“Two Florida police officers were brutally murdered and the victims’ families deserve a prosecutor who is willing to consider all sentences, including the death penalty,” Bondi said.
Ayala’s spokeswoman did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
In response, Governor Scott reassigned 24 death penalty cases from Ayala to State Attorney Brad King. Florida state law empowers the governor to reassign cases between state attorneys for any “good and sufficient reason.”
Governor Scott’s office said that as governor, he has the “sole authority to reassign cases after a determination that the reassignment will serve in the interest of justice.
Ayala sued Governor Scott after he reassigned the 24 cases, and said that he didn’t have the authority to do that. Arguments have been presented to the Florida Supreme Court for both sides, and a ruling has not been issued yet.
When he announced his decision, Governor Scott said, “Last night’s violence against our law enforcement community is reprehensible and has no place in our state. In Florida, we have zero tolerance for violence and those who attack our law enforcement. Today, I am using my executive authority to reassign this case to State Attorney Brad King to ensure the victims of last night’s attack and their families receive the justice they deserve.”
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi agreed with his decision, and said “Two Florida police officers were brutally murdered and the victims’ families deserve a prosecutor who is willing to consider all sentences, including the death penalty — that is why the governor and I agree the investigation and prosecution of this case must be reassigned.”