ORLANDO, Fla. – The jury in Markeith Loyd's murder trial reached a verdict Wednesday in less than an hour, recommending a sentence of life in prison -- not the death penalty-- for the convicted killer.
The jury began deliberations before 11 a.m. Wednesday, weighing life in prison or the death penalty for the man convicted of killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Sade Dixon. Less than an hour later, the court was informed the jury had reached a decision.
At 12:30 p.m., the jurors' verdict was read in court. They unanimously recommended life in prison for Loyd.
Loyd had asked not to be present when the verdict was read but later changed his mind and was in the court for the decision.
No impact statements were read by Dixon's family or anyone else after the sentence was handed down.
After the verdict, Loyd's mother and family declined to comment as they left the Orange County courthouse.
Prior to deliberating Loyd's punishment, Loyd's defense team called members of his family to the stand, where they testified about what life was like with him.
They showed the jury a video of Loyd interacting with his granddaughter.
"His state of mind was impaired. Not to the extent that it’s an excuse. He’s guilty of first-degree murder," Loyd's attorney, Terry Lenamon, told the jury. "You did the right thing. It’s now an issue of impairment in regards to the weight of the aggregating factors."
Before the jury began deliberations, Lenamon asked the jury to spare Loyd's life.
"I ask you, I beg of you, sentence him to life," Lenamon said.
After hearing from both Loyd's defense team and the state, the jury had begun deliberations by 11 a.m.
In order to recommend a death sentence the jury needs to be unanimous, according to a new Florida law that took effect in 2017.
"When we deal with the death penalty, we're talking about the most extreme penalty that can be handed out in the justice system," said News 6 legal analyst Steven Kramer.
Kramer said the stakes in this case are high.
He said testimony from Loyd's family, as well as from medical doctors -- who said traumatic events in Loyd's life caused him to be mentally ill -- could have made a difference with the jury.
"The defense only has to successfully humanize Markeith Loyd to one juror," Kramer said. "They only have to make one juror find empathy and compassion."
Closing arguments began at 9 a.m. at the Orange County Courthouse in downtown Orlando.
Watch News 6 for more coverage.