Convicted cop killer Markeith Loyd sentenced to death

Judge sentenced Loyd to death for murder of Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Convicted cop killer Markeith Loyd was sentenced to death by a judge Thursday morning for the murder of Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton in 2017.

Judge Leticia Marques made her final decision months after a jury recommended the death penalty for Loyd, 46. Loyd was found guilty on five charges, including first-degree murder, in the shooting death of Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton outside a Walmart in 2017 while he was on the run for killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Sade Dixon, in December 2016.

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Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton

Orlando police officers who were working with Clayton when she was killed were in the courtroom to hear the judge’s decision. One of Clayton’s cousins gasped with relief when Marques announced Loyd would be sentenced to death.

Loyd asked to address the court afterward and when he was denied, he was taken away rambling.

Ashley Thomas, Clayton’s sister, said she is well with the sentencing and “I know the family is well with this decision as well.”

“It’s been a hard five years just knowing that, just reliving it every day like you’re reliving it every day, but today, I felt her presence. I know she can rest and hopefully just heal from here,” she said.

Watch Clayton’s family reaction below:

Before the hearing began, Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon and Orange County Sheriff John Mina were seen sitting in the courtroom. Mina tweeted after the sentencing, “Very pleased that Judge Marques sentenced cop killer Loyd to death. Rest in peace Lt. Debra Clayton. He has caused so much suffering to the families of Lt. Debra Clayton, Sade Dixon, and DFC Norm Lewis.”

“All these families have suffered. Debra Clayton’s family has suffered. Sade Dixon’s family has suffered. Norm Lewis’ family has suffered. All because of the evil actions of Markeith Loyd,” Mina said outside the courthouse. “... And now it’s time for Markeith Loyd to suffer.”

Mina said he received a handwritten note from Loyd. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office released it Thursday:

Rolon called this “a long and emotional ride” and said justice has been served.

“The fact of the matter is that Markeith Loyd not only took lives, but he also affected many others, including his family, the families of everyone affected by his actions, and justice has been served today,” Rolon said after the court hearing.

[RELATED: ‘It’s time for Markeith Loyd to suffer:’ Orlando leaders, Lt. Debra Clayton’s family react to cop killer’s death sentence]

The jury deliberated for around five hours before reaching its verdict. Loyd was found guilty of 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.

Loyd was already serving a life sentence for the murder of Dixon.

About the Authors:

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