Jury finds Markeith Loyd guilty of first-degree murder in shooting death of Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton

Loyd found guilty on 5 charges

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A jury has found Markeith Loyd guilty on five charges, including first-degree murder, in the shooting death of Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton in 2017.

Following closing arguments in Loyd’s murder trial, the jury continued deliberations Wednesday morning and reached a verdict after noon. The verdict was read at 1:30 p.m.

The jury deliberated for around five hours before reaching a verdict. Loyd was found guilty on five charges: first-degree murder on a law enforcement officer, attempted murder on a law enforcement officer, aggravated assault with a firearm, carjacking with a firearm and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

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The jury will be returning Saturday to decide whether or not he will be sentenced with the death penalty. Shortly after the guilty verdict was read, several law enforcement agencies and officials released statements in response.

“My message to him is justice has been served and justice is coming,” Orange County Sheriff John Mina said outside the courthouse.

The case was handed to jurors — nine men and three women — just after 4 p.m. Tuesday, and the jury was sent home around 7 p.m. with no verdict. Jurors requested to rehear several testimonies, including Loyd’s, who testified for several hours Saturday and claimed self-defense for the shooting outside a Walmart that killed Clayton.

“When I hear a shot, I immediately pulled my gun and turned around and return fire,” Loyd said.

The judge is allowing the jury to rehear several testimonies, which could take hours before they are able to come up with a verdict. The jury decided to rehear testimony from six witnesses.

[RELATED: Central Florida law enforcement reacts to Markeith Loyd’s guilty verdict]

The first testimony jurors listened to again was from Julia Johnson, who was an employee at Walmart and witnessed the shooting. Monica Pridgeon’s testimony was also read back to jurors. Pridgeon was another witness who testified she saw Loyd fire the first shot. They also listened to the testimonies from Orlando police Detective Pete Cadiz, who was the lead detective on the shooting, and from Orange County Medical Examiner Dr. Joshua Stephany, who testified that Clayton could have survived if it haden’t been for the final fatal shot.

Loyd, 46, is accused of shooting and killing Clayton while he was on the run after killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon in December 2016. Loyd is currently serving life in prison without parole for the murder of Dixon.

During closing arguments, state attorney Ryan Williams told the jury, “Lt. Clayton took her oath to serve and protect very seriously and on the morning of Jan. 9, 2017, she honored that oath. But it’s not her oath or courage why she is no longer with us. Debra Clayton is dead because of anger.”

Defense attorney Terry Lenamon told the jury during his closing argument that Clayton shot first at Loyd, who only returned fire to defend himself.

“Six seconds being fired upon, defending yourself, trying to save your life when someone is trying to kill you,” Lenamon said. “Once that gun fight is on, what does the state want to happen? For Loyd to run away with a gun pointed at him?”

Lenamon then elaborated to the jury “Mr. Loyd’s firm belief that the white man was trying to kill him,” explaining to the jury that the evidence claims Loyd was insane and had delusions and paranoia when he shot Clayton.

After nearly two hours of closing arguments, Loyd’s defense rested their case.

It took jury members four and a half hours to reach the guilty verdict in Loyd’s 2019 trial, when he was convicted for the murder of Sade Dixon. Loyd also faced the death penalty in that case and it took the jury about an hour to recommend life instead of death.

About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined ClickOrlando.com in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.