ORLANDO, Fla. – Up to 2,000 potential jurors have been summoned to report to the Orange County Courthouse in the first trial against Markeith Loyd, who is accused of shooting and killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Sade Dixon, in December 2016.
Loyd is also accused of shooting and killing Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton in January 2017, however, that trial is scheduled for next year.
In this first trial, which began Friday morning, News 6 learned there have been up to 2,000 jurors summoned for the case. The first 500 were brought into courtroom 23 Friday. Each group was split into panels of 50 at a time.
The judge explained to them that, if chosen, they will not be allowed to speak about, read stories about or post online about the case. Also, if chosen, they will not be able to go home.
"The jury in this case will be sequestered," Judge Leticia Marques said. "That means you will get a state-sponsored break when you get home. You will be staying in a hotel every night. You get your own room. All of your meals will be provided for you. Someone will clean your room, make your bed. It's not as bad as it sounds, folks."
Many jurors explained their potential hardships. Marques did not excuse many on Friday, but separated them into red and blue groups to bring back for questioning next week.
The judge asked the potential jurors if they recognize Loyd.
"Who here recognizes Mr. Loyd?" she asked. More than half of the jurors in each panel raised their paddles, indicating that they did.
Loyd chuckled when that happened with the first group but overall, he was on his best behavior Friday.
He was well-dressed, which made him appear very different from when he's appeared in court in the past. He was wearing a button-down shirt with a navy blue cardigan over it.
He also was not wearing handcuffs or his eye patch. It is the first time we have seen Loyd without his eye patch. He lost his left eye after officers used force on him during his arrest.
Jury selection is expected to take four weeks, with a new group of 500 jurors questioned on Fridays. If chosen, not only will they be sequestered, but jurors will have to sit in on the trial, which is expected to take place on Mondays through Saturdays.
Many of those questioned Friday were ordered to come back on Tuesday for further questioning. Court will be closed on Monday.