Family describes Markeith Loyd's rough childhood during penalty phase of trial

Loyd faces death penalty for murdering Sade Dixon

ORLANDO, Fla. – The jury in the murder trial of Markeith Loyd began the penalty phase of the case Monday morning. 

The sentencing comes days after Loyd was found guilty of murdering his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Sade Dixon, and their unborn child in 2016. 

Loyd faces the death penalty, but his defense is hoping jurors will agree to give him life in prison rather than a death sentence.

Already this year, two high-profile cases -- involving Scott Nelson and Grant Amato -- have come back without death sentences.

Loyd will also face the death penalty in the shooting death of Orlando police Lt. Debora Clayton. His second murder trial is scheduled for next year.

Loyd's penalty phase began at 9 a.m. Monday at the Orange County Courthouse.

The state is asking the jury sentence Loyd to death and the defense is asking the jurors give him life in prison.

The state told the jury about Loyd’s previous criminal history, calling a former Orlando police Officer Todd Herb to the stand. Loyd was accused of battery on the officer in 1998 following a traffic stop.

"He punched me in the face ... He started hitting and punching me," Herb told the jury.

Loyd’s defense attorney Terry Lenamon told the jury their decision was not based on Loyd's guilt, but whether they believed a human should die for the crime knowing his history.

A jury will determine the fate of Markeith Loyd.

"This is not an excuse for the murders, your verdict was just based on your belief system,” Lenamon told the jury. “This is about whether you are going to sanction the killing of a human being without considering all the facts now that you have."

The defense began by telling the jury about Loyd’s traumatic upbringing, including seeing a friend and cousin murdered, as well as the life choices he made.

"There were two routes you either robbed or you deal drugs and he didn't want to rob so he dealt drugs,” Lenamon said of Loyd growing up in Pine Hills and Carver Shores neighborhoods.

Just before lunch, Loyd’s mother, Patricia Loyd, was also called to testify on his behalf. She told the jury she would continue to love him no matter what and continue to visit him in prison if they choose to sentence him to life in prison.

"He was always in fear of his life and being incarcerated at an early age," Patricia Loyd said.

After lunch, Loyd's siblings, three sisters and a brother, asked the jury to consider giving him life in prison.

Tonya Loyd described her older brother as the family's protector.

"There were times we didn't have lights or running water in our house so he would make sure those things were reconnected by paying those fees," she said, adding he would steal food so they could eat.

The defense is expected to call more family, friends and several medical experts. Prior to the trial, the defense filed a motion informing the court that Loyd suffers from brain damage.

Stay with News 6 and for updates.

About the Authors:

Ezzy Castro is a multimedia journalist on News 6's morning team who has a passion for telling the stories of the people in the Central Florida community. Ezzy worked at WFOR CBS4 in South Florida and KBMT in Beaumont, Texas, where she covered Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Being from Miami, Ezzy loves Cuban coffee and croquetas!