ORLANDO, Fla. – The Florida Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on May 2 as Markeith Loyd tries to appeal his conviction and death penalty sentence after he was found guilty of murdering an Orlando police officer.
Loyd was sentenced to death last year for the murder of Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton in 2017.
Loyd’s attorneys are calling for a new trial and a new penalty phase hearing, accusing the courts of making several errors that were detrimental to Loyd’s defense, including whether Loyd was competent to be sentenced.
Loyd’s mental health was called into question during the trial and the penalty phase, but the court ruled that Loyd was competent to be sentenced.
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“In its competency order, the court dismissed the defendant’s continual return to the topic of the handling of the crime scene in the (Sade Dixon) case, which he perceived as significant to the jury’s consideration of the Clayton case. The court’s view was that ‘he simply refuses to accept his guilt.’ This view is at odds with the defense experts’ explanation that “perseveration,” or returning continually to a fixed idea, is a symptom of mental-health difficulties,” attorneys wrote in their brief.
Loyd was first convicted of the 2016 murder of his ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon and her unborn child in 2019. He was sentenced to five consecutive life terms in prison in that case.
Police said Loyd was trying to avoid capture for Dixon’s death when he encountered Lt. Debra Clayton at an Orlando Walmart. He shot her, then escaped capture for nine days before he was finally arrested.
Loyd was convicted of killing Clayton in 2021.
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