ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A judge has outlined the evidence that can be presented to the jury in the upcoming penalty phase of Markeith Loyd’s murder trial, allowing the defense to show a two-minute video of his violent arrest that resulted in the loss of his left eye.
Attorneys reconvened Tuesday to argue which pieces of evidence they would like the jury to see during the penalty phase, which is set to begin Nov. 29. Loyd was found guilty on five charges, including first-degree murder, in the shooting death of Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton in 2017 while he was on the run after killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon in December 2016.
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The penalty phase of Loyd’s trial was pushed back after Judge Leticia Marques decided to allow the defense to discuss the use of force by law enforcement during Loyd’s arrest.
“During the course of the trial, the Court heard testimony and evidence related to Defendant’s beliefs about police officers, resulting in a shift of the Court’s position on the issue of relevance to mitigation,” the document reads.
The ruling allows a short version from law enforcement’s helicopter video of Loyd’s arrest to be shown during the penalty phase of the trial. The judge is allowing the two-minute video provided by the defense of the arrest, “which shows the Defendant surrendering and being placed into custody, including the head kicks,” according to the court document.
“This video was left out of trial and the judge ruled on that in the past which is why the defense wasn’t able to play this video. It has nothing to do with his guilt with how he should be punished in my mind,” Orange County Sheriff John Mina said.
The judge ruled against allowing photographs of Loyd’s face after the arrest, citing the jury was able to “view Defendant very closely throughout the trial” and it was evident “to all in the courtroom that the Defendant is missing his left eye.” However, according to the ruling, Loyd can testify on how injury occurred, who caused it and providing testimonial evidence on the delay of medical attention.
“The argument is about him losing his eye and the impact that he has had to suffer after losing his eye both mentally, psychologically and physically. Your reaction to that? I don’t care about him at all,” Mina said.
The full helicopter video of Loyd’s arrest is 16 minutes long and shows Loyd crawling on his stomach through a yard toward police officers who were surrounding an abandoned home he was located. When Loyd reaches the law enforcement officers, at one point one of the officers appears to kick Loyd while he’s lying flat on his stomach. The helicopter spotter recording the video then turns the camera away. The video did not show Loyd’s actions during his arrest.
Both an Orlando police internal investigation and an investigation from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement cleared the officers involved in Loyd’s arrest from any wrongdoing. The department’s internal review released in June 2020 provided detailed accounts from each of the four officers as well as testimony from other law enforcement officers on scene who surrounded the home and witnessed Loyd crawling across the yard before he was taken into custody.
All four officers who kicked, punched or otherwise struck Loyd expressed similar fear, saying at the time they knew Loyd was accused of killing Clayton execution style outside a John Young Parkway Walmart nine days prior to his arrest and they didn’t want to meet a similar fate.