ORLANDO, Fla. – The man accused of shooting and killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend and an Orlando police officer returned to court Thursday afternoon.
Markeith Loyd, who faces murder and other charges, appeared in court for a status hearing, a procedural step in the march toward two murder trials, one of which is scheduled to begin in September 2018.
During Thursday's hearing, Loyd refused to answer any of Judge Frederick Lauten's questions. Orlando lawyer Roger Weeden, who is representing Loyd, said he has been communicating with his client and offered no reason for his silence in court.
Weeden requested that Lauten allow a mitigation specialist onto the criminal defense team. A mitigation specialist coordinates with the defendant's family, identifies any mitigating factors from the defendant's past that could play a role in the defense and helps identify when and where expert witnesses could be needed.
Lauten said he will rule within 10 days on whether or not the mitigation specialist will be permitted.
“I’m not quarreling about how important mitigation is, it’s very important … I just want to give it a little thought,” Lauten said.
Lauten did agree Thursday to appoint Orlando attorney Teodoro Marrero as Weeden's co-counsel.
Loyd was arrested earlier this year in the slayings of Sade Dixon and Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton.
The state will seek the death penalty against Loyd, who claims self-defense in the shooting of Dixon.
The trial for charges Loyd faces in connection with Dixon's death is slated to begin in September 2018, but Lauten acknowledged during court Thursday that a date has not yet been set for the trail related to Clayton's death.
That date will be set during Loyd's next court appearance. Lauten said that trial will likely begin in the end of 2018 or the beginning of 2019.
Also discussed in court Thursday was the potential for jurors to be brought in from outside of Orange County for one or both of Loyd's trials. That matter will be decided at a later date.
Lauten said regardless of whether or not outside jurors are brought in, he would like the penalty phase of the trial, assuming there is one, to follow shortly behind the guilt phase of the trial.
“It won’t be the next day, everybody needs a breather," Lauten said. "So it’ll be either two, three, four, at max five days for the penalty phase.”
State Attorney Brad King is prosecuting the case after Gov. Rick Scott removed Orlando-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala over her decision not to pursue the death penalty against Loyd or in any case.