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    Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala

    Noose in the Mail: Controversial Florida Attorney Gets Threatening Delivery

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    The first African-American state attorney in Florida has been receiving racist letters in the mail, and one of them reportedly contained an actual noose.

    The hate mail being sent to Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala is now being investigated by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, with cooperation from the US Postal Service, to determine where it originated from.

    Ayala became an extremely controversial figure after she announced that she will not seek the death penalty in any case – including that of accused cop killer Markeith Loyd.

    Loyd is accused of brutally killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend and of performing the execution-style murder of Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton.

    In March, Ayala was removed from the Loyd case, and nearly two dozen other death-penalty cases, by Florida Governor Rick Scott. The Loyd case was subsequently assigned to Ocala prosecutor Brad King, who is an outspoken supporter of the death penalty.

    The first of the frightening letters arrived at the State Attorney’s Office on March 20, one day after Ayala was removed from the Loyd case. The mail caught the attention of a clerk at the office, as it had racist messages towards Ayala scrawled on the envelope. 

    The next letter arrived a week later, appearing to come from the same person, and contained a postcard with a small twine noose taped to it.

    The messages contained in the letters have not been released publicly.

    Earlier this month, Ayala filed lawsuits against Scott in both federal and state courts over her removal from the murder cases.

    "When Ayala exercised her prosecutorial discretion and decided that she would not seek the death penalty, she was acting entirely within her authority. That entirely legal act cannot possibly constitute 'a good and sufficient reason' for replacement. Nothing in Florida law requires Ayala to seek the death penalty, even when statutory aggravators are present, so the suggestion that her charging policy is grounds for replacing her is meritless," Ayala’s lawyer wrote in the court petition.

    While Ayala has received support from anti-death penalty groups, the NAACP and others, Florida Republican House members have been calling for her to be removed from her job.

    According to the incident report regarding the hate mail, Ayala “believes the hangman’s noose was meant as a threat to her as a public official.” She also believes that the letters are a hate crime, according to a report from the Orlando Sentinel.

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    Tags:
    Hate Crime, Racism, Death Penalty, Orange-Osceola State Attorney, Orange County Sheriff’s Office, NAACP, Markeith Loyd, Debra Clayton, Rick Scott, Aramis Ayala
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