Judge denies motion to take death penalty off table for man accused of killing 16-year-old with car

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Attorneys representing Sanel Saint Simon went before a judge Monday seeking to have the death penalty taken off the table in his case due to the ongoing fight between Gov. Rick Scott and State Attorney Aramis Ayala.

Saint Simon is accused of using a car in the killing of his girlfriend’s 16-year-old daughter in July 2014.

His attorneys argued Monday that Scott’s appointment of State Attorney Brad King in their client’s case amounts to an automatic pursuit of the death penalty by the state.

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Since Ayala announced her office would not seek the death penalty in any case, Scott has removed her from any pending cases in which the death penalty could be sought.

Scott appointed King to prosecute the cases.

In every case in which Ayala has been replaced by King, the state has pursued the death penalty, Saint Simon’s attorneys argued Monday.

“Essentially, what the governor has done is stepped in and stripped away all prosecutorial discretion from Ms. Ayala,” one attorney said.

The judge sided with prosecutors and denied motions to take the death penalty off the table in the case.