Markeith Loyd presents 'sovereign citizen' argument in court

Loyd accused of murder in deaths of Sade Dixon, Lt. Debra Clayton

ORLANDO, Fla. – A judge on Wednesday entered a plea of not guilty on two indictments against Markeith Loyd, who is accused of shooting and killing an Orlando police officer and his pregnant ex-girlfriend, and set separate trial dates for each murder case.

Loyd, 41, faces numerous charges in the deaths of Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton, who was slain Jan. 9, and Sade Dixon, who was killed Dec. 13.

Chief Judge Frederick J. Lauten set a trial date of May 1 in the Dixon case and a date of June 19 in the Clayton case.

Loyd is scheduled to next appear in court March 20 for a status hearing.

Loyd wore handcuffs and a patch over his left eye, which he earlier said he lost because of his treatment by authorities when they took him into custody in January after a nine-day manhunt in Orlando.

He often remained silent when questioned by Lauten but also spoke over the judge, apparently claiming to be a sovereign citizen.

“For the record, I want to state that I am Markeith Loyd, flesh and blood human being,” he said. “MARKEITH LOYD, in all capital letters, that’s not me. That’s a corporation that was created at my birth that I do not accept. That’s not me.”

Loyd was apparently arguing that he is a sovereign citizen and not subject to the government's laws.

“It’s oftentimes misguided, but it’s not the first time the court has heard that position,” Lauten said.

The hearing began with Lauten asking Loyd how he was doing.

After refusing to answer, Loyd finally said, "I"m alright."

Markeith Loyd after his arrest in January and in an updated mugshot taken March 1.

Lauten asked Loyd if he was pleading guilty, not guilty or no contest to the charges he faces, but Loyd refused to answer and tried to change the topic.

"Y'all can't do nothing to me," Loyd said.

Lauten then entered not guilty pleas on Loyd's behalf for both indictments.

Loyd maintained that he does not want a lawyer appointed to represent him, and Lauten again affirmed that Loyd was competent to make the decision to waive counsel.

After a contentious exchange, Lauten told Loyd that there were certain matters he had to go over with him.

“I’m required by law to cover this with you, whether you like it or not,” Lauten said.

Lauten said a public defender will serve as standby counsel for Loyd.


Murder suspect Markeith Loyd is expected to enter a plea Wednesday morning on the six charges he faces in relation to his pregnant ex-girlfriend’s death and the five charges in connection with an Orlando police officer’s death.

Loyd, who is accused of fatally shooting Sade Dixon and Lt. Debra Clayton, passed the judge a handwritten note during his court appearance on Feb. 22 asking to be given a written copy of the charges against him.

In the letter, he said that he would need an additional week to enter a plea because he was not given sufficient notice of the charges against him.

Court records show that Loyd filed a motion on Monday to have his hearing rescheduled to Friday. Loyd wrote that when he put in his original request on Feb. 22, he had mistaken the dates.

The judge denied the request because the court had already scheduled the hearing for 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Timeline: How the manhunt and capture of Markeith Loyd unfolded

Wednesday’s appearance will be Loyd’s sixth time in court since his arrest on Jan. 17. He’s accused of shooting Dixon outside her Pine Hills home on Dec. 13, then evading authorities until Clayton approached him outside an Orlando Walmart on Jan. 9.

Officials said Loyd killed Clayton, then hid out in the Central Florida area until authorities found him hiding out at an abandoned home in Carver Shores on Jan. 17.

In Dixon's death, Loyd is charged with first-degree murder with a firearm, killing of an unborn child by injury to the mother, attempted first-degree murder with a firearm, two counts of attempted felony murder with a firearm and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, according to the State Attorney's Office.

Loyd is also facing charges of first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer with a firearm, attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer with a firearm, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, carjacking and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in connection with Clayton's death.

No charges have been filed against Loyd in connection with the death of Orange County Deputy Norman Lewis, who was fatally struck while he was on his motorcycle assisting in the search for Loyd after Clayton's death.

A grand jury indicted Loyd on Feb. 15. It’s unclear if he will face the death penalty.

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About the Authors:

Daniel started with WKMG-TV in 2000 and became the digital content manager in 2009. When he's not working on, Daniel likes to head to the beach or find a sporting event nearby.