Orange-Osceola state attorney to seek death penalty for woman accused in fatal stabbing

By: WFTV Web Staff , Field Sutton

Updated:

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - Orange-Osceola County State Attorney Aramis Ayala will seek the death penalty in the case of a woman accused in a fatal stabbing.

Investigators said Emerita Mapp stabbed and killed Zachary Ganoe, 20, at a Days Inn motel in Kissimmee in April.

Mapp was charged with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder.

When deputies got to the scene, Ganoe was dead in the hotel room and another man was clinging to life.

The one who survived told investigators Mapp had stabbed and killed his friend.

Fact check: State Attorney Aramis Ayala's reasons for not pursuing the death penalty

According to documents, Ayala filed a death notice Tuesday in the case, which will be the first death penalty case her office has taken on since Ayala's creation of a death penalty review panel.

The new filings from prosecutors state that they can prove Mapp was previously imprisoned or on probation and previously convicted of a violent felony.

Photos: Women on Florida's death row

The filings also said the stabbing happened during a robbery and that she did it to avoid arrest and that the murder was “especially heinous, atrocious or cruel.”

“At this point, we’re only seeing the tip of the evidentiary iceberg. You can bet there’s a lot of evidence there that warrants the state seeking the death penalty in this case,” said WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer.

Gov. Rick Scott took 29 murder cases away from Ayala's office earlier this year after she announced in March that she would not seek the death penalty in any case.

Ayala created the panel to help decide if the death penalty should be sought in future cases, after she lost a Florida Supreme Court battle to get back the 29 cases. 

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