Markeith Loyd

Markeith Loyd makes an emotional plea on admissible testimony during a pretrial hearing for his coming murder trial in Orange Circuit Court, in Orlando, on April 26. JOE BURBANK/ORLANDOSENTINEL/TNS



Lt. Dbra Clayton

ORLANDO – Markeith Loyd will face trial in early October for the 2017 killing of Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton, a judge said at a Monday hearing.

Loyd’s trial, which was scheduled to start May 2020, was postponed last year due to concerns regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin Oct. 8, Circuit Judge Leticia Marques told attorneys during the hearing at the Orange County Courthouse.

“We need to get this case done,” she said.

Orange and Osceola courthouses have delayed restarting first-degree murder trials like Loyd’s because they require 12-person juries, which are difficult to distance six feet apart in most courtrooms.

Facing death penalty

Marques said she anticipates there will be fewer COVID-19 restrictions that could “hamper” jury selection in October.

Loyd, 45, faces the death penalty if a jury finds him guilty of first-degree murder in Clayton’s killing. He has pleaded not guilty.

Police say he fatally shot Clayton on Jan. 9, 2017, at a Walmart on Princeton Street after she tried to arrest him for killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon in December 2016.

After a massive manhunt, Loyd was arrested outside an abandoned house on Lescot Lane in Carver Shores. Orlando police officers beat him severely during his arrest, causing Loyd to lose an eye, but they were cleared by an internal investigation and a probe by the 18th Circuit State Attorney’s Office.

Use of force issue

During the April 26 hearing, prosecutors argued Loyd’s attorneys shouldn’t be allowed to tell jurors about law enforcement’s use of force against Loyd during his arrest more than a week after Clayton’s shooting.

Defense attorney Terence Lenamon said the use-of-force issue is relevant because Loyd feared police wanted to kill him after Dixon’s murder.

Loyd was convicted of first-degree murder in 2019 for shooting Dixon and her unborn child, but he avoided the death penalty after jurors recommended he be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Loyd’s allegation

Loyd shot Clayton after she shot at him first, Lenamon said.

Loyd told Marques that he was trying to turn himself in after Dixon’s death but decided against it after investigators would not correct misinformation about the shooting.

“I was trying to turn myself in,” he said Monday. “Walmart never had to happen but they were trying to kill me.”

The judge ruled Loyd’s beating by officers is not relevant during the part of the trial when jurors will determine if Loyd is guilty of killing Clayton.

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