(CNN) — Markeith Loyd, the Florida man who sparked an extensive manhunt after allegedly killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend and a police officer, will not face the death penalty, State Attorney Aramis Ayala said Thursday.
At a press conference, Ayala said she had studied the issue and decided her office would not seek the death penalty in any cases, saying capital punishment in Florida had led to “chaos, uncertainty, and turmoil.”
She argued that evidence showed the death penalty was overly expensive, slow, inhumane and did not increase public safety.
Loyd was indicted on 11 counts, including murder, firearm and other charges in the December 13 death of his pregnant ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon and the January 9 death of Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton. He was captured January 17 after a nationwide manhunt.
In a statement Wednesday night, Orlando police Chief John Mina said he was “extremely upset” to learn that prosecutors will not seek the death penalty against Loyd.
“I have seen the video of Markeith Loyd executing Lt. Debra Clayton while she lay defenseless on the ground,” the police chief said.
“She was given no chance to live. A cop killer — who also killed his pregnant girlfriend — should not be given that chance. The heinous crimes that he committed in our community are the very reason we have the death penalty as an option under the law.”
Loyd and Dixon had been involved in a relationship and had a child on the way, authorities said. He had been on the run since her fatal shooting at an Orlando residence.
Clayton received word January 9 that Loyd was near a Walmart and tried to confront him.
Mina said the suspect “basically opened fire on” Clayton as soon as she told him to stop and continued to shoot even after she was down.
Backlash to the decision
The decision by Ayala, a Democrat, not to pursue death penalty cases in Florida’s 9th Judicial Circuit sparked a sharply negative reaction from several Republican officials in the state.
In a statement, Gov. Rick Scott said he “completely disagree(s)” with the move and called on Ayala to recuse herself from the Loyd case.
“She has made it abundantly clear that she will not fight for justice for Lt. Debra Clayton and our law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every day,” Scott said.
Similarly, state Attorney General Pam Bondi, also a Republican, said it “sends a dangerous message” not to seek the death penalty.
“It is a blatant neglect of duty and a shameful failure to follow the law as a constitutionally elected officer,” Bondi said.
Shawn Dunlap, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Orlando Lodge 25, slammed the decision as an “epic injustice.”
“The death penalty is the law of the land in the state of Florida, and I believe that if there ever was a case for its use this would be the one,” Dunlap said.
Capital punishment has been in limbo in Florida recently. The US Supreme Court ruled in January 2016 that the state’s death penalty process was unconstitutional, and the state’s high court ruled against a proposed fix to that law late last year.
On Tuesday, the governor signed a new death penalty bill, which was crafted to stand up to those legal challenges.
‘I’m a human being’
When asked to enter a plea this month, Loyd responded: “For the record, I want to state that I am Markeith Loyd. Flesh and blood. I’m a human being. I’m not a fictitious person. I’m not a corporation,” he said.
Chief Judge Frederick J. Lauten entered a not guilty plea on Loyd’s behalf.
Loyd had a series of verbal outbursts when he questioned why the court placed charges against him.
“The state of Florida has charged you with these offenses, not the court,” Lauten explained.
Loyd repeatedly insisted on representing himself.
He was found competent to make that decision, but the judge ordered a public defender be assigned as standby counsel.
Court documents indicate Loyd has not been diagnosed with a mental issue, has 10 years’ worth of schooling and has a GED certificate.
Charges dropped for Loyd associates
In other news related to the Loyd case, charges of accessory after the fact against Zarghee Mayan and Jameis Slaughter were dropped, according to a review of an Orange County court docket.
Authorities said Mayan did not contact officials after meeting with Loyd, who allegedly told him he had killed Dixon.
Slaughter was accused of collecting money to give to Loyd, a former boyfriend, while police were searching for him, authorities said.
The court filing said the case is not suitable for prosecution.
Slaughter still faces a misdemeanor charge of giving police false information. She’s accused of lying about her communication with Loyd while he was on the run.
Heavily armed officers arrested Loyd at an Orlando house in January.
At the time, Loyd said the full story had not been told about the fatal shooting of his former girlfriend.
A pretrial hearing for the Dixon case is set for April 17, Lauten said. Jury selection for that trial will begin on May 1. The case is expected to last about two weeks.
On June 19, Loyd will stand trial, accused of killing Clayton. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for June 12.
The next status hearing is scheduled for Monday.