Judge appoints top Florida capital punishment lawyer to represent Markeith Loyd

Miami-based attorney Terry Lenamon will defend double murder suspect

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A judge granted a request Tuesday by Markeith Loyd, who is accused of double murder, for a new attorney who is among the top capital defense attorneys in Florida.

After first denying Loyd's request in April 2017 to appoint Miami attorney Terry Lenamon, Judge Frederick Lauten granted a second request Tuesday after Loyd's first defense attorney was removed from the case.

Loyd is accused of killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Sade Dixon, in December 2016 and later fatally shooting Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton at an Orlando Walmart when she attempted to arrest him.

During a June hearing, Lauten granted Loyd's request to have his attorney, Roger Weeden, removed as his counsel because Weeden has never tried a case that resulted in a first-degree murder conviction and had to argue against the death penalty.

Miami-based capital defense lawyer Terence Lenamon

Lauten said that he would choose Loyd's new attorney after expressing concerns over an indigent defendant hand-picking his own attorney.

[TIMELINE: How the hunt and capture of Markeith Loyd unfolded]

“We’ve wasted a year and a half with an incompetent lawyer,” Loyd told the judge Tuesday, referring to Weeden, the former lead counsel.

On Tuesday, Lauten agreed to Lenamon representing Loyd.

Lenamon is a managing partner at a small criminal defense firm. He is one of Florida’s highest-paid capital litigation lawyers, earning $5 million since 2000 on capital cases, the Miami Herald reported.

For a brief time, Lenamon worked on Casey Anthony’s defense and previously defended a client in a case in which State Attorney Brad King was the prosecutor. In that case, Joshua Fulgham, of Ocala, was sentenced to life in prison for killing his estranged wife, avoiding a death sentence.

Gov. Rick Scott appointed King as special prosecutor on the Loyd case after the governor removed Orange-Osceola County State Attorney Aramis Ayala.

Loyd's co-defense attorney said he will be happy to work with the new lead attorney on the case.

"I'm very happy to be working with Terry. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him," lawyer Ted Marrero said. "He's an extraordinarily competent death penalty attorney. Probably one of the best in the country."

Marrero said he hopes Loyd will also be happy with his new attorney and "more inclined to communicate with him."

A new court date was set for January for the charges Loyd faces for Dixon's death. A new trial date will need to be established for Clayton's case.