ORLANDO, Fla. – Attorneys in the penalty phase of Markeith Loyd’s second murder trial said the decision of whether Loyd will be sentenced to death could be in the jury’s hands as early as Tuesday.
Loyd, 46, was convicted on Nov. 3 of murdering Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton in 2017. The jury in that case returned last Monday for the beginning of the sentencing phase.
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The jury’s job? To determine if the aggravating factors in Clayton’s murder outweigh the mitigating circumstances of Loyd’s life.
Testimony ended in the penalty phase of the trial on Monday, with the defense resting their case that morning, and the defense resting it that afternoon, just before 4:30 p.m. The jury was then sent home early.
Closing arguments are set to being Tuesday morning, and the just could begin deliberating as soon as that afternoon.
LOYD TRIAL: BREAKING: State rests it's case. Jury is sent home early. They will begin tomorrow with jury instructions. Then closing arguments and then the jury can have this by tomorrow afternoon. @news6wkmg— Nadeen Yanes (@NadeenNews6) December 6, 2021
Monday’s proceedings started with Loyd ranting about issues he had with the investigation in his first murder trial in which he was found guilty of killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Sade Dixon. The comments were made outside the presence of the jury.
“This court is unlawful and prejudiced,” he said. “What country are you living in (when) you can’t test blood at the crime scene?”
The judge then asked Loyd if he planned to testify today, but he refused to answer and his attorneys said he would not.
LOYD TRIAL: Good morning! We’ll court started early this morning because Markeith Loyd clearly has some things to say. Sounds like he once again is bringing up issues he had with investigation in Dixon murder. @news6wkmg pic.twitter.com/VwjvLDKzMn— Nadeen Yanes (@NadeenNews6) December 6, 2021
Once testimony before the jury began, Loyd’s daughter, Kianna, was called to the stand.
She painted Loyd as a great grandfather to her two young children.
“He talks to her a lot. Every time he calls, she knows that it’s him and she is smiling with no teeth. It’s just amazing to see,” Kianna Loyd said.
Loyd cried while his daughter spoke.
Kianna Loyd then discussed the reason why her father doesn’t eat meat.
“It has more to do with the fact that the animal dies and it is dead, and once you consume death, it makes it harder to live,” she said.
LOYD TRIAL: Kianna Loyd is talking about how her dad doesn't eat meat:— Nadeen Yanes (@NadeenNews6) December 6, 2021
"It has more to do with the fact that the animal dies and it is dead and once you consume death, it makes it harder to live.."@news6wkmg https://t.co/4xUXqmJAac
Later, Kianna Loyd said, “I’ll love him no matter what.”
The defense then rested its case, and the state will presents its rebuttal.
The state then began its rebuttal argument, calling several witnesses. One witness, Officer Jonathan Cute, who has been with Orlando police for 20 years and was part of the SWAT team when Loyd was arrested, testified that he thought Loyd might have had a weapon when he crawled out of the house.
LOYD TRIAL: Officer Cute explains why he thought Loyd might have had a weapon in his pants because of the way he was crawling out of the house - not using his legs. He’s in tears saying this is when he began to fear Loyd coming out @news6wkmg pic.twitter.com/m6dG517f1X— Nadeen Yanes (@NadeenNews6) December 6, 2021
In tears, he told the court, “I believed in my heart Mr. Loyd was wanting to kill me.”
Internal and Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigations previously cleared the officers involved in Loyd’s arrest.
“It was a 19-month long investigation,” said Stacy Salmons, who works for the state attorney’s office in the 18th district, of FDLE looking into the use of force in Loyd’s arrest. “Through the course, we at my last count conducted 132 interviews.”
LOYD TRIAL: Salmons is released. State has already called 3 of their 5 rebuttal witnesses. Looks like we might be wrapping up testimony today. With closings tomorrow and possible even jury deliberations...— Nadeen Yanes (@NadeenNews6) December 6, 2021
I'll know a better timeline at the end of day. @news6wkmg https://t.co/gKEmlqOLlg
Throughout the last week, the state began with presenting those aggravating factors, such as Loyd’s violent criminal history, including the December 2016 murder of Dixon. Her mother, Stephanie Dixon-Daniels, took the stand last week.
“I saw blood coming from her chest and arms, blood coming from my son’s pants,” Dixon-Daniels told the jury. “All I was screaming was, ‘My babies, my babies!’”
The state also presented testimony on the impact Clayton’s loss had both on the community and on her family.
“All she lived to do was serve and protect,” testified Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill, whom Clayton served as her community liaison officer.
The jury also heard from Francine Thomas, Clayton’s cousin.
“I died that day, I died. They killed me inside,” Thomas said, crying. “My cousin, my best friend, a piece of my heart. I carry around the heaviest word in the English language - hate.”
However, the defense hopes the jury considers certain circumstances of Loyd’s life, presenting family and friends as witnesses so far, along with medical experts. Patricia Loyd, Loyd’s mother, testified that she neglected him as a child.
Jurors also heard from Loyd’s younger brother Barry Jacobs who testified Loyd wanted to turn himself in.
“He wanted to turn himself in, seeing with Sade Dixon’s family to turn himself in so they can get the reward money,” Jacobs said.
The defense also allowed to bring up the injuries Loyd sustained during his arrest resulting in the loss of his left eye, bringing in their experts in the mental health field, forensic pathologists and clinical psychologists, some of whom diagnosed Loyd with PTSD and other disorders.
“He came out of a family environment that was poisoned, and what can you expect out of that except someone who gets involved in this kind of behavior?” said Dr. Marvin Dunn, a retired professor from the psychology department at Florida International University.
According to the defense, they plan to call a couple more witnesses Monday morning, wrapping up their case. The state will then get a chance to call rebuttal witnesses.
Both sides expect to reach closing arguments in this death penalty case Tuesday morning, meaning the jury can get deliberations afterward.