Judge in Markeith Loyd case to make decision on death penalty in March

Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton’s family provide impact statements in Friday Spencer hearing

ORLANDO, Fla. – The judge presiding over Markeith Loyd’s case will announce the decision in March whether he will face the death penalty or be given life for the murder of Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton.

A jury in Loyd’s trial recommended the death penalty in December for the 2017 murder of Clayton. Loyd verbally waived his right to a Spencer hearing and asked to be sentenced immediately, but he later said he no longer wished to waive that right.

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The Spencer hearing took place Friday morning, which gives the defendant’s lawyers one more chance to provide evidence that could change the outcome of a sentence. Judge Leticia Marques said the state and defense have until Feb. 1 to send in memos and she will make her decision March 3.

Loyd’s defense attorney called on several witnesses Friday, including Loyd’s sister and a psychologist who testified Loyd has a delusional disorder. Loyd took the stand in his own defense, making the final opportunity to address the court.

He brought up points he has made when he testified earlier in his trial, reiterating his belief police and the system were out to kill him.

“Sorry, about your loss I never meant to kill Lt. Clayton,” he said, directing his comments to Clayton’s family. “I never meant to take her life, even with her firing first, I meant to hit her vest.”

Prior to the hearing, the defense requested In court filings made Thursday that the Spencer hearing for Loyd be granted a continuance, citing reasons such as his doctor being unprepared to testify in court, Loyd’s leading attorney testing positive for COVID and the risk of exposing Loyd to the omicron variant of the virus due to his unvaccinated status.

In the defense’s request, it states that Dr. Xavier Amador was unable to testify Friday because “he would not have time to prepare his testimony in just this one week,” and his testimony was “necessary and essential to the mitigating circumstances the court is to consider” in the Spencer hearing.

The defense said Amador is an expert in Anosognosia, a neurological condition described by the National Center for Biotechnology Information as when one is unconsciously in denial and unaware of an apparent disability or deficit.

The document referenced the court’s denial Jan. 7 of a similar motion to continue the Spencer hearing — in which the defense said it asked for the hearing to be split into different sessions depending on circumstance — to further request that as few in-person sessions as possible be scheduled in such a case due to the pandemic.

Citing the Orlando Sentinel, the defense said some judges and staff members are currently quarantined from the courtroom due to COVID-19 infection or contact. The defense also said Loyd’s attorney Terence Lenamon tested positive for the virus Thursday morning.

Loyd is already serving a life sentence for the murder of ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon, who was pregnant at the time.

Last week, when the judge denied the defense’s request to appoint a new mental health expert and delay the Spencer hearing, she said the testimony was not new.

“It is at best an expansion on the testimony that was heard during the trial. The court heard several experts testify to delusional disorder. I heard several experts testify to the fact that he does not recognize that he is mentally ill and to the effect that that has on Mr. Lloyd’s behavior,” Marques said. “You’ve had five years to get this together, folks.”

About the Authors:

Christie joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021.

Brandon, a UCF grad, joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021. Before joining News 6, Brandon worked at WDBO.