ORLANDO, Fla. - The family of a woman killed in a botched murder-for-hire case said outgoing State Attorney Aramis Ayala was wrong after revoking the death penalty without asking how they felt.
It has been three years since 42-year-old Janice Zengottia-Torres was kidnapped outside a store and mistakenly killed in what authorities called a love triangle murder-for-hire plot.
Ayala appointed a review panel that decided to seek the death penalty against two of the three suspects, Ishnar Marie Lopez and Alexis Ramos-Rivera. However, during her final days as state attorney for Orange and Osceola counties, Ayala revoked the death penalty in three different cases, including this one. She cited the defendant's age and lack of significant criminal history.
"The decision was sudden and we were made aware only minutes before, not allowing us to express ourselves," said the murder victim's niece, Carmen Hernandez. "What the prior administration under Aramis Ayala was wrong, my family and I were never given an opportunity to express our thoughts and this decision was inconsistent with what was convinced to us during the past three years."
The family wants the maximum punishment, but even if it’s not the death penalty, they are ok with a life sentence; however, they’re concerned there could be a plea agreement with less time.
Osceola Sheriff Marco Lopez explained, "It started looking like it was going to be five years, 10 years and that’s what they don’t want. They want to make sure that justice is served with the maximum amount possible."
We asked incoming State Attorney Monique Worrell what penalty she planned to seek.
"My first priority is getting justice for them. We are currently exploring all of our legal options and once we gain clarity on where everyone stands, then we’ll be able to talk about it."
"After speaking today with Sheriff Lopez and State Attorney Worrell feel assured that justice will be served where the maximum punishment will be given, according to Florida’s law," Hernandez said.
Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.