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By Jeff Weiner Orlando Sentinel

ORLANDO, Fla. — A judge denied a request from defense lawyers for Markeith Loyd on Tuesday, seeking to prevent prosecutors from seeking the death penalty against the accused killer.

After Loyd’s arrest in the killings of Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton and Sade Dixon, Loyd’s pregnant ex-girlfriend, Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala filed notice in March 2017 indicating she would not seek to have Loyd executed if convicted.

Ayala was later removed from the case by Gov. Rick Scott due to her announcement that her office would not seek the death penalty in any cases. State Attorney Brad King of Ocala took over.

King has opted to pursue Loyd’s execution. On Tuesday, Loyd’s lawyers argued for Ayala’s original decision to be reinstated.

“I think it’s wrong for the governor’s office to step in and say they don’t’ agree with a sitting state attorney, a duly elected state attorney’s opinions and pick somebody else,” said defense attorney Teodoro Marrero. “… Her decision was a rational decision. It wasn’t an unsupportable decision on her part.”

Lauten, however, said his hands were tied by the August 2017 decision by the Florida Supreme Court that upheld Scott’s authority to take the cases away from Ayala. He rejected the request.

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