State attorney Ayala responds to Gov. Scott in fiery letter

By Erin Murray, Reporter
Last Updated: Monday, December 11, 2017, 11:04 PM EST

After a week of waiting, State attorney Aramis Ayala responded on Monday to Governor Rick Scott's request for answers about a death penalty filing with a fiery letter.

Gov. Scott wanted to know why Ayala missed a deadline to file a notice to seek the death penalty in an Osceola County murder case.

In a letter to Governor Scott, Ayala accused him of avoiding discussing the matter directly with her and instead going straight to the media.

Ayala said that while she filed the notice to seek the death penalty late, case law allowed for her to file the notice without prejudice.

She also said she was in contact with State Attorney General Pam Bondi about this decision.

But then Bondi’s office reacted with a statement of their own saying, “Ayala’s office reached out to my attorneys regarding an unidentified death penalty case well after she missed the deadline in an attempt to salvage the case. My office provided potential legal arguments in an attempt to defend a death penalty case, and in an effort to correct her egregious actions.

Bondi's office also added, "What she did is inexcusable in failing to meet a deadline required in a capital case. In no way do we condone her behavior. She continues to demonstrate that she is incompetent and unwilling to handle capital cases. We will continue to lend support to any effort to follow the law and ensure justice is done in any homicide in the ninth circuit."

Ayala then took aim at the governor, questioning the way he reassigned cases from her office.

"...The irony here is that you are questioning my behavior when you are the one who failed to do what you said you were going to do. When you publicly stated that you were going to "continue to look at" murder cases from in my office, you did not," she wrote.

Ayala then asked Gov. Scott for public records on how he made his decisions in removing cases from her office.

"I want my office to be as prepared as possible when we are required to help defend the integrity of the prosecution of all death penalty cases stemming from the 9th Circuit," she said.

Gov. Scott's office later responded to Ayala's letter in a statement Monday evening, calling her response insufficient.

"What is especially troubling is [Ayala's] refusal to answer specific questions about her death penalty review panel. State Attorney Ayala needs to be more forthcoming with her office’s death penalty process to make it clear that she is going to follow the law and fight for victims," wrote Gov. Scott's communications director. "The governor will continue to stand with victims of crime and push for the answers that the citizens of the Orlando area deserve.”

Ayala also noted that her office will produce the public records Gov. Scott requested of her in his letter.