Judge keeps death penalty option available in Markeith Loyd cases

Loyd accused of murder in deaths of Sade Dixon, Orlando Lt. Debra Clayton

By Daniel Dahm - Digital Manager

ORLANDO, Fla. - A judge on Tuesday declined a motion by Markeith Loyd's defense to remove the death penalty from his murder cases.

Loyd faces first-degree murder charges in the deaths of his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Sade Dixon, and Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton, both of whom were shot to death.

Loyd’s attorneys had argued that the decision should have been decided by State Attorney Aramis Ayala, who announced after Clayton's death that she would not seek the death penalty against Loyd -- or anyone.

[Timeline: How the hunt and capture of Markeith Loyd unfolded]

Gov. Rick Scott removed Ayala from Loyd's cases, and the Florida Supreme Court ruled he had the authority to make that decision.

Ayala later implemented a panel in her office to determine whether the death penalty should be used in murder cases in her jurisdiction.

The defense also sought Dixon's private Facebook records. The judge said the defense would need to subpoena Facebook for those records and he wouldn't rule until the technology company responds.

Loyd will face separate murder trials next year in each case.

The next hearing is scheduled for Oct. 3.

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