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Death penalty will be sought against Markeith Loyd

State attorney calls Loyd 'especially heinous, atrocious or cruel'

ORLANDO, Fla. – The state attorney prosecuting accused double murderer Markeith Loyd will seek the death penalty, according to a notice filed Monday evening.

Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney Brad King cited several aggravated circumstances that he believes qualify the case for the death penalty. He called the crimes of which Loyd is accused "especially heinous, atrocious or cruel."

"The capital felony was a homicide and was committed in a cold, calculated and premeditated manner, without any pretense of moral or legal justification," the notice read.

King would not provide further comment on his decision.

Loyd is accused of killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon on Dec. 13 and then shooting Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton "execution style" on Jan. 9 when she tried to apprehend him at a John Young Parkway Walmart.

Loyd was found in an abandoned home on Jan. 17, bringing a nine-day manhunt to an end.

The death penalty announcement in Loyd's case came one day after Gov. Rick Scott removed Orange Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala from 21 first-degree murder cases and reassigned them to King's office.

Ayala was originally set to prosecute Loyd, but Scott issued an executive order reassigning it to King hours after she announced that she would not seek the death penalty against Loyd or in any other case her office prosecutes.

[VIDEO: State Attorney Ayala announces she won't pursue the death penalty]

Roy Austin, Ayala's legal council, said they plan to fight all of the "governor's unlawful and unconstitutional actions." He said that includes they plan to appeal so the Loyd case and the 21 other cases can be shifted back to Ayala's office.

"I think if you are a prosecutor in the state of Florida you should be very concerned about the governor's actions. Because there's nothing, based on his analysis of this, there's nothing to stop him from interfering in any case that he wants to interfere. There's no limit to it," Austin said.

Scott said Tuesday afternoon that he agrees with King's decision and trusts him to prosecute the case.

"I think that he is doing the right thing from the standpoint of looking at the facts and he'll make the right decision," Scott said. "My experience with Brad King has been very positive and I know he will take this very seriously and he'll do it like I'm doing it. He will think about the victims and think about their families."

Law enforcement officials across Central Florida said it was a "slap in the face" for Ayala not to seek capital punishment and applauded Scott's executive order.

"I have seen the video of Markeith Loyd executing Lt. Debra Clayton while she lay defenseless on the ground," Orlando police Chief John Mina said. "She was given no chance to live. A cop killer -- who also killed his pregnant girlfriend -- should not be given that chance."

Until the notice was filed Monday evening, King remained relatively mum when he was asked about the possibility of capital punishment, saying only that he planned to "seek justice" for the victims.

Loyd has had several tumultuous court appearances since his arrest, during which he has denclined the service of a public defender and insisted that he represent himself. He has accused police officers of brutality and said he will refuse a mental competency evaluation.

During his most recent court appearance on Monday, he said he will accept counsel only if Miami-based capital litigation lawyer Terence Lenamon can represent him. Loyd said in a handwritten motion that he and his family have been in contact with Lenamon and he believes that Lenamon will be the best advocate for his case.

"Mr. Lenamon is willing to take me on at the rates that would be paid to a public defender," the motion read. "Me and my family are comfortable with and trust Mr. Lenamon, I ask that you carefully consider my request..."

He asked that a decision be made as soon as possible, adding that "now is better."

Orange County Chief Judge Fredrick J. Lauten will decide April 12 if Lenamon will be permitted to represent Loyd.


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