• 9 Investigates: Ayala's death penalty panel reviewed, passed on at least 20 cases

    By: Field Sutton


    ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - 9 Investigates learned the panel reviewing murder cases for State Attorney Aramis Ayala decided not to pursue the death penalty against at least 20 accused killers.


    The panel, however, approved seeking the death penalty for a single case, but the office refused to name the accused killer.


    Earlier this year, Ayala announced she would not seek the death penalty in Orange and Osceola county cases.


    Read: Anti-death penalty prosecutor's office to seek death penalty


    She made it clear she would not pursue a case of capital punishment as long as she was in office.

    The Florida Supreme Court determined the blanket decision was illegal, so Ayala later announced a panel of lawyers to look at every murder case.


    The rules Ayala laid down require the panel to be unanimous to pursue the death penalty.


    Channel 9 learned the panel is not reaching a unanimous decision very often.


    Instead, it happened in one out of what's described as more than 20 cases that have happened since Ayala took office in January.


    Those cases are ones that were not transferred to State Attorney Brad King, which is what Gov. Rick Scott commonly did during that legal battle.


    The panel is still reviewing other cases, but Ayala's spokesperson said as far as the more than 20 cases already reviewed, and the one in which members voted to pursue death, the panel's decision is final.

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