Jury recommends death for convicted killer Markeith Loyd

Loyd convicted of murder in fatal shooting of Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton

ORLANDO, Fla. – A jury on Wednesday recommended the death penalty for Markeith Loyd in the murder of Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton.

Loyd, 46, was found guilty on Nov. 3 of five charges, including first-degree murder, for the shooting death of Clayton in 2017 while he was on the run after killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon in December 2016. He’s already serving life in prison for the murder of Dixon.

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Although the jury recommended the death penalty, the judge will make the final decision whether to sentence Loyd to death or life in prison.

After the decision was read, Loyd’s defense team requested that the jury be polled, with each juror affirming his or her decision.

The judge thanked the jury for their service and discharged them.

Loyd then spoke out from his seat, saying he wanted to be sentenced immediately.

“I’m ready to get sentenced today,” Loyd said, waiving his right to a Spencer hearing, the opportunity for a defendant’s lawyers to present additional evidence to a judge before a sentence is entered.

Loyd will be sentenced on Jan. 14 if he waives his Spencer hearing in writing; he has since said he no longer wishes to waive this opportunity.

Loyd continued to make comments from his seat, at one point directing remarks to the audience, prompting a warning from the judge before she had him removed from the courtroom.

“Let’s get him out, folks,” the judge said to deputies.

Orange County Sheriff John Mina, who was the Orlando police chief when Clayton was killed, released a statement shortly after the jury announced its decision.

“I am grateful that the jury has seen to it that justice will be served,” he said. “Nothing can erase the pain so many of us feel about the fact that Debra was murdered in cold blood as she worked to protect this community.”

A short time later, Clayton’s family spoke about the jury’s recommendation.

“I’m just glad it’s over,” a family member said while wearing a medallion with her picture on it. “She’s still close to my heart.”

He was then asked what it was like to be so close to Loyd in the courtroom.

“I see a cold-blooded, calculated killer,” he said.

“I just wanted justice,” he added before being asked by a reporter is that’s what was done. “That’s what (the jury) came up with, so that’s justice.”

Former State Attorney Aramis Ayala, who was removed from the Markeith Loyd case in 2019 after she said she would not seek the death penalty, issued the following statement regarding the jury’s decision:

After receiving the case Tuesday afternoon, jurors deliberated Wednesday morning.

The jury returned to court and immediately went into deliberations at 8:30 a.m. Jurors asked to listen to the testimony of Loyd’s daughter, Kianna.

Closing arguments ended Tuesday afternoon, and the case went to the jury, which will decide whether Loyd should face the death penalty.

Several people testified during the penalty phase, including Markeith Loyd’s mother, who said she admitted Loyd to a mental health facility when he was younger because of anger and drug issues.

Throughout closing arguments, Loyd’s attorney, Terry Lenamon, once again brought up Loyd’s mental illnesses and the fact that he was beaten by officers during his arrest in 2017, resulting in the loss of his left eye.

“If you believe life is the appropriate sentence, I’m asking you, please, please, please, give him life,” Lenamon said.

The state began with presenting aggravating factors, such as Loyd’s violent criminal history, including the December 2016 murder of Dixon. Her mother, Stephanie Dixon-Daniels, whose son was also shot and wounded, 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!’”

Loyd made a few outbursts Tuesday morning, with Judge Leticia Marques almost removing him from the courtroom.

On Dec. 29, the defense sent a motion to the judge asking to delay the Jan. 14 Spencer hearing, which Loyd previously wanted waived, to allow a mental health expert to further speak on the case.

About the Authors:

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.

Daniel started with WKMG-TV in 2000 and became the digital content manager in 2009. When he's not working on ClickOrlando.com, Daniel likes to head to the beach or find a sporting event nearby.