A Florida prosecutor has been removed from 21 additional murder cases over her refusal to pursue the death penalty. Gov. Rick Scott removed Ninth Judicial Circuit State Attorney Aramis Ayala from the "horrendous cases" Monday after she criticized capital punishment as costly and inhumane, reports CNN and NBC Miami. The cases have been transferred to State Attorney Brad King. King also took over the high-profile case of Markeith Loyd last month after Ayala said she would not consider capital punishment. Her refusal to do so for the remainder of her four-year term, which began in January, "sends an unacceptable message that she is not interested in considering every available option in the fight for justice," Scott says.
Scott, who says the thought of victims' families helped him make his decision, adds that he has the authority to appoint a special prosecutor given his "solemn constitutional duty to 'take care that the laws be faithfully executed.'" However, a rep for Ayala—who claims she only learned of Scott's decision through the media—says she "remains steadfast in her position the Governor is abusing his authority and has compromised the independence and integrity of the criminal justice system." Others have echoed her sentiments, including Democratic state Rep. Sean Shaw, who says Scott's decision represents a "gross abuse of his power." Ayala plans to fight the move and has hired a civil rights lawyer formerly with the Justice Department, reports NPR. (Read more Florida stories.)