State attorney will not seek death penalty against Markeith Loyd

Life without parole considered in Loyd case

By Daniel Dahm - Digital Manager , Dawn Jorgenson - Web - News Editor

ORLANDO, Fla. - State Attorney Aramis Ayala said Thursday that she will not seek the death penalty for accused murder Marketih Loyd or for any first-degree murder cases during her time in office.

Ayala's decision comes just days after Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill requiring a unanimous jury recommendation before the death penalty can be imposed.

Ayala said during a news conference that there is no evidence of improved public safety for citizens or law enforcement with the death penalty, and that such cases are costly and drag on for years.

Orlando police Chief John Mina said late Wednesday that he is "extremely upset" about the decision.

Loyd, 41, was arrested on murder charges in the shooting deaths of Sade Dixon, his pregnant ex-girlfriend, and Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton. He was caught after a nine-day manhunt following Clayton's death.

"I have spoken with the State Attorney (Aramis Ayala) and I'm extremely upset that she will not be seeking the death penalty for triple murderer Markeith Loyd," Mina said in a letter posted on Twitter. "I have seen the video of Markeith Loyd executing Lt. Debra Clayton while she lay defenseless on the ground. She was given no chance to live. A cop killer -- who also killed his pregnant girlfriend -- should not be given that chance. The heinous crimes that he committed in our community are the very reason we have the death penalty as an option under the law."

News 6 anchor Matt Austin spoke with Mina, who is in Dubai for a law enforcement symposium, via social media about the state's decision not to pursue the death penalty against Loyd.

Austin asked Mina about the state's reasoning, to which Mina replied, "I have no idea."

Mina said he will meet with Ayala to further discuss the decision.

Mina also told Austin that OPD staff spoke with Clayton's family, saying that Seth Clayton, the widower of Debra Clayton, was "not happy" with the state's decision.

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Dixon's father said life without parole is one of the options being considered in the case against Loyd. He said the Dixon family plans to meet with prosecutors Thursday.

[VOTE BELOW: Should state pursue death penalty against Loyd?]

News 6 has reached out to the State Attorney's Office, but has yet to receive a response.

Shawn Dunlap, the president of Fraternal Order of Police Orlando Lodge 25 said not pursuing the death penalty would be "epic injustice to the family of Lt. Debra Clayton as well as every single law enforcement officer in the 9th Judicial Circuit."

Dixon was shot and killed in December. Clayton was slain in the line of duty in January after receiving a tip that Loyd was at a Walmart in Orlando, police said.

Loyd is also accused of shooting at an Orange County sheriff's deputy in the immediate search for Loyd. The deputy was not injured.

Orange County sheriff's Deputy Norman Lewis died in a crash while responding to the man. Loyd does not face charges in his death.

Loyd was arrested after a massive nine-day manhunt. He claims that he was beaten by law enforcement officers while he was surrendering, saying in court that he lost his eye in the incident.

Loyd plans to represent himself at trial. He presented a "sovereign citizen" argument at a recent court hearing. He is scheduled to appear in court Monday for a status hearing.

Chief Judge Frederick J. Lauten set a trial date of May 1 in the Dixon case and June 19 in the Clayton case.

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