State Attorney Ayala’s first death penalty case is Osceola murder


By Rachel Christian

Staff Writer

For the first time since taking office in January, the Orange-Osceola state attorney is seeking the death penalty for a woman accused of stabbing a man to death at a Kissimmee hotel in April.

Emerita Mapp, 34, of Orlando, is charged with the first-degree murder of 20-year-old Zachary Ganoe and the attempted murder of Andrew Bickford.

Ganoe was found dead inside a room at the Days Inn on Polynesian Boulevard


in Kissimmee the morning of April 11. Outside the room, deputies found Bickford bleeding on the ground. The surviving victim was transported to the Osceola Regional Medical Center.

According to the arrest affidavit, Bickford and Ganoe checked into the Days Inn around 3 a.m. April 11. Bickford told authorities that when he returned after leaving to get breakfast later that morning, he was immediately met at the door by a black female later identified as Mapp.

Records state that Mapp allegedly ordered Bickford to get on the ground near Ganoe, who Bickford said was laying motionless covered in blood. Mapp allegedly cut Bickford’s neck with a knife as she went through his pockets, stealing his wallet and cell phone, records state.

Mapp faces additional charges of robbery, tampering with evidence and possession of a stolen credit card.

Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala filed a notice to seek the death penalty in the case Tuesday. This follows a several month legal battle between the state attorney and Gov. Rick Scott.

Scott took 29 murder cases away from Ayala’s office earlier this year after she refused to pursue the death penalty for any of them, and Ayala sued to get the cases back.

But the Florida Supreme Court ruled in favor of Scott’s decision 5-2.

Ayala then created a special death penalty review panel to assess all homicide cases assigned to her office and determine the ones in which attorneys believe the death penalty should be sought.

Ayala does not sit on this panel. Mapp is the first case in which the panel unanimously chose to pursue capital punishment if Mapp is found guilty.

The public information officer for Ayala’s office confirmed the filed notice, but said that due to the on-going nature of the case, she was unable to provide other details or cite why Mapp’s case was selected.

If convicted, Mapp would become only be the third female sentenced

to death in Florida, with the last taking place 15 years ago.