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Death Penalty Case Underway in Orange County As Ayala, Scott Battle in Court

Orange County Courthouse in downtown Orlando. Photo: Gelander.
Orange County Courthouse in downtown Orlando. Photo: Gelander.

Jury selection began Monday morning in the first death penalty murder trial in Orange County since ninth circuit state attorney Aramis Ayala said she would not pursue that punishment.  29-year-old Juan Rosario faces execution for arson and first degree murder in the death of his 83-year-old neighbor Elena Ortega.

Rosario's is one of twenty-three cases reassigned by Governor Rick Scott from state attorney Aramis Ayala to Lake and Marion county prosecutor Bradley King.

Ayala has since filed a federal lawsuit against Scott calling his move unconstitutional.

In a recent exclusive interview with Orlando radio station The Wire 98.5 she continued to defend her stance.

“People are under the false assumption that after you have the guilt phase and the person is found guilty and their sentenced to death then it’s done. But the truth is, that is the beginning of decades of appeals. The families don’t get the closure,” she said.

She added that death penalty appeals cost the state millions of dollars.

Opponents call her decision irresponsible.