Osceola County

Family ‘deeply disappointed and enraged’ after outgoing state attorney issues death penalty waivers in high-profile murder cases

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — For the first time, Eyewitness News is hearing from the family of a murdered woman, after State Attorney Aramis Ayala decided to take the death penalty off the table for two suspects in the case.

This comes as new State Attorney Monique Worrell will be sworn in Friday. Worrell said she was not involved in the discussions but she was notified of the decision.

Shortly after she was elected, Ayala made it clear that she would not seek the death penalty in any case.

READ: Outgoing state attorney issues death penalty waivers in 2 high-profile murder cases

Close to the end of her term she signed waivers of intent saying she would not seek the death penalty, even after prosecutors were pushing for it in some high-profile murder cases in Osceola County.

One case that impacted all of this was a twisted love triangle back in 2018.

Investigators said Ishna Lopez-Ramos hired two people to kill a woman in a relationship.

Detectives on the case said the pair allegedly kidnapped the wrong person and suffocated her anyway.

READ: State Attorney Ayala sends murder-for-hire case to death penalty review board

The woman killed was Janice Marie Zengotita Torres. Torres’ sister wrote a letter writing that Torres was a victim of “coldblooded and cruel violence,” and that she was suffocated without any remorse or regret.

Friday marks three years since Torres’ family found out she was killed.

In the sister’s letter, she said her entire family attended court, hoping for justice, but ever since the decision was made to reverse the death penalty, her family says they are “deeply disappointed and enraged about Aramis Ayala’s backstabbing decision during her last day as state attorney.”

READ: Osceola County twisted murder-for-hire plot started with love triangle, officials say

The state attorney’s office released the following statement:

“The outgoing state attorney made the decision she felt was best based on her review and analysis of those individual cases … that was her decision to make.”

The death penalty waivers are likely one of the first things Worrell will need to tackle as the new state attorney.

Katlyn Brieskorn, WFTV.com

Katlyn Brieskorn is a Digital Assignment Editor at WFTV. She joined Channel 9 in July 2019.

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