State Attorney Ayala calls Gov. Scott's decision to reassign 21 death penalty cases 'abuse of power'

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Gov. Rick Scott has issued executive orders Monday to reassign 21 first-degree murder cases in State Attorney Aramis Ayala’s district to State Attorney Brad King.

The move comes weeks after Ayala’s announcement that she will not seek the death penalty while she’s in office.

Scott’s office said the orders were “in the interest of justice.”

“Each of these cases I am reassigning represents a horrific loss of life. The families who tragically lost someone deserve a state attorney who will take the time to review every individual fact and circumstance before making such an impactful decision,” Scott said.

Ayala's office said it was unaware of Scott's decision to reassign the cases until it heard about it from reporters Monday.

"Ms. Ayala remains steadfast in her position the governor is abusing his authority and has compromised the independence and integrity of the criminal justice system," spokeswoman Eryka Washington said in a media release.

Read: Scott doubles down on decision to remove Ayala from Loyd's case

Markeith Loyd's case had already been reassigned to King.

Loyd is accused of shooting and killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend and an Orlando police lieutenant.

A suspect in one of the 21 cases was in court Monday as the governor made the announcement.

Juan Rosario is accused of killing Elena Ortega, 83, and setting her house on fire.

His trial is set for April 17.

"I believe you have to stand down until Mr. King makes any decisions," the judge told the prosecutor in Rosario's case Monday during court.

Attorney Roger Weeden has two cases affected by the governor’s decision—Roasrio’s and Loyd’s.

Weeden thinks the governor has gone over the line.

“To interject the thoughts and philosophies of a prosecutor to another circuit, to impost their position on Orange County and Osceola County, is totally improper,” said Weeden. “The community should be outraged by the that.”

But the governor is within the law to issue the orders.

King’s office will look at some of the cases, and Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office has offered to provide support staff.

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings released the following statement in reaction to Scott's executive orders:

"It is not my place to second-guess Gov. Rick Scott nor Orange/Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala. It is the responsibility of the courts to determine jurisdictional authority.

However, I believe prosecutors should listen to the wishes of the families of murder victims when determining whether to seek the death penalty unde3r Florida's current laws."

Here is some of WFTV's previous coverage of some of the 21 cases: