ORLANDO, Fla. – After a rambling court appearance Tuesday, a judge has agreed to a allow accused killer Markeith Loyd to undergo a mental evaluation.
Attorneys for Loyd, who is accused of killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend and an Orlando police lieutenant, were in court Tuesday asking that Loyd's separate murder trials be combined, according to a motion filed Aug. 2 with the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court.
Currently, Markeith Loyd is set to have separate murder trials in the deaths of Sade Dixon and Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton. The trial connected with Dixon's death is scheduled to begin in September. Loyd's second trial is scheduled for May 2020.
Loyd faces the death penalty if convicted on either first-degree murder charge.
However on Tuesday, before Judge Leticia J. Marques could address the motions, the defense asked for a competency hearing for Loyd.
Marques granted a competency evaluation for Loyd Tuesday after he began the hearing by speaking nonstop for about 20 minutes to the court claiming his innocence.
Loyd repeatedly said in court Tuesday he tried to turn himself into authorities on two occasions before he was caught in January 2018 after more than a month on the run.
Loyd was permanently injured during his capture by Orlando police. He lost the sight in one eye and wears an eye patch. The use-of-force was justified, according to State Attorney Phil Archer, who cited the Florida's "stand your ground" law.
Loyd will be evaluated by a doctor to determine if he is competent to stand trial and then the judge will rule on the three motions filed Aug. 2 by Loyd's attorney, Terry Lenamon, who specializes in death penalty defense.
Earlier this month, Marques ruled the state can introduce evidence and witnesses that establish the gun used in the shooting of Dixon and Clayton is the same gun and that Loyd was in possession of the gun when arrested. However, Marques ruled that the state will not be permitted to introduce that Clayton died as a result of being shot.
"The fact that defendant shot Debra Clayton to avoid arrest for Ms. Dixon’s shooting and then ran is all the State needs to establish," according to the judge's decision.
A motion filed the afternoon of Aug. 2 by Loyd's defense attorney asks the court to consolidate both cases. Loyd's attorneys say that because evidence will be presented in the first trial to show that Loyd allegedly shot Clayton with the same weapon Dixon was killed with, he would have to defend against Clayton's homicide twice, according to the motion, because the lieutenant's death was widely reported in the news media.
The second motion asked the judge to strike testimony given recently during the hearing to establish whether the state can present evidence during Dixon's murder trial about Clayton's shooting.
A witness who said they saw Loyd shoot Clayton testified at the hearing before the court's ruling. After their testimony, Lenamon wrote in the motion that he discovered Facebook posts related to Loyd's arrest, including one that said the state will “have to drop all charges against me and wipe the one felony off my record if they want my testimony” against Loyd.
Other posts said if the witness spoke to detectives they would help the witness with his own criminal case "because I’m helping them so much ... but it also makes me a marked man around the area I work in cuz [Loyd] has a lot of pull in that area.”
Lenamon wrote in the motion, that the "Facebook posts seriously undermine the veracity (of his) testimony which this Court relied on in determining that the evidence of Sgt. Clayton’s shooting should be admitted as evidence of Defendant’s consciousness of guilt."
The third motion asks the court to move Loyd's September trial date for the charges related to Dixon's death to April 2020.