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Pinellas Sheriff: No death penalty for Markeith Loyd 'reprehensible'

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.

[Times file]

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.



Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri rebuked in a statement Thursday the decision by Orlando’s top prosecutor not to pursue the death penalty for Markeith Loyd, accused of killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend and Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton in January.

Loyd’s case is just one in a sweeping announcement by State Attorney Aramis Ayala that she will not seek the death penalty in first-degree murder cases.

“This is reprehensible,” Gualtieri posted on the Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, “and I cannot state strongly enough how appalling this is that a police officer can be executed while on the ground and a state attorney, elected to enforce the laws of our state, refuses to do her job.”

He went on to say that he asked the Florida Sheriff’s Association to “come out strongly against this.”

Ayala said during a news conference that she made the decision after conducting a review on the effectiveness of the practice.

“What has become abundantly clear through this process is that while I do have discretion to pursue death sentences,” she said, “I have determined that doing so is not in the best interests of this community or in the best interests of justice.”

Gov. Rick Scott has asked that she recuse herself from Loyd’s case.

Gualtieri’s statement is in line with that of Orlando Police Chief John Mina, who said Wednesday via Twitter that he was “extremely upset.”

“The heinous crimes that he committed in our community are the very reason we have the death penalty as an option under law,” he said.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

[Last modified: Thursday, March 16, 2017 1:33pm]


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