Another judge to oversee Markeith Loyd's first murder trial in September

Loyd accused in murders of Sade Dixon, Debra Clayton

By Mark Lehman - Reporter, Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

ORLANDO, Fla. - An Orange County judge has set Sept. 30 as the date of Markeith Loyd's first murder trial after denying the state's motion to proceed to trial without further delay under Florida's new victim's rights law.

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.

Chief Judge Fred Lauten, who has overseen all of Loyd's previous hearings, will not preside over Loyd's first trial due to his upcoming retirement in June.

Lauten said Tuesday he would prefer to try this case but after considering his retirement and balancing the victim’s rights and the defendant’s right to due process he decided to turn the case over to Orange County Circuit Judge Leticia Marques.

Lauten has served as chief judge in Orange and Osceola counties since 2014. He first became a judge in Orange County almost 26 years ago.

The hearing Tuesday was expected to center on the state's request for a speedy trial.

State Attorney Brad King said he filed the demand for a speedy trial under the Florida's newly passed constitutional amendment known as Marsy’s Law. King claims the defense has been continually asking for unreasonable delays.

Florida voters approved Amendment 6 last November, a sweeping proposal that broadened the rights of crime victims and increased the mandatory retirement age for judges. The main part of the amendment is known as Marsy's Law and similar laws have been passed by many states around the country.

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

Loyd's defense attorney Terry Lenamon argued he’s only been representing Loyd for eight months and said he would not be ready for a May 6 trial date that the state was requesting. 

Lenamon also argued the state's interpretation of Marsy’s Law is misguided. He said the trial has been delayed so many times because Loyd’s original attorney wasn’t qualified to defend a capital punishment case.

On Tuesday, Lauten denied the state's motion and set the first trial date for Sept. 30. Loyd will have separate murder trials for each slaying, the first of which will be for charges related to the shooting death of Dixon.

If convicted, Loyd faces the death penalty.

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