Defense attorneys say they're not ready for Markeith Loyd's trial

Judge denies request for trial delay

By Adrienne Cutway - Web Editor, Nadeen Yanes - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - With jury selection for Markeith Loyd's first trial just days away, his defense attorneys claim they don't have enough time to prepare and they're just not ready.

A pre-trial hearing was held Wednesday morning, during which Judge Leticia Marques ruled on several motions, including the defense's request for a trial delay.

Loyd stands accused of fatally shooting his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Sade Dixon, on Dec. 13, 2016. He'll face a second trial on charges related to the death of Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton, who he is accused of shooting as she tried to take him into custody.

Attorney Daniel Schwarz said he's waiting on nine statements Orlando Police Department officers gave to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement regarding the force used when Loyd was arrested on Jan. 17, 2017, bringing a manhunt to an end.

The use of force, which caused Loyd to lose his left eye, was deemed justifiable on the basis of the state's "stand your ground" law. Although the FDLE investigation is complete, the statements will not be made available until OPD completes its internal investigation, which likely won't be for another one or two months.

[RELATED: Body camera shows night Markeith Loyd taken to police HQ | Here's what to expect from the prosecution during the Markeith Loyd trial]

"There is no way to get ready, especially when we are waiting to hear back regarding the nine statements," Schwarz said.

He said it won't be possible for him and his team to be fully prepared by Friday, when jury selection is slated to begin.

"We are asking to continue. We are not asking for a huge continuance, but we are asking for time to review (the statements) before we start finding a jury," Schwarz said.

Marques said the trial has been delayed long enough. 

"It's been three years folks, it's time to go to trial," Marques said.

Loyd tried to argue with the judge on this point, saying his attorneys have only been on the case for the past 14 months due to a change in counsel last year.

"They haven't had enough time. No, they are not ready and you are forcing them to go to trial and they are not ready and (you are) violating my rights to a fair trial," Loyd said in court.

Wednesday's hearing laid out the groundwork for how the trial will proceed. Loyd's attorneys made multiple requests that they said aimed to limit the bias against their client.

The defense's requests to remove metal detectors from the courtroom entrance, to prevent jurors from being sequestered and to prohibit media cameras during jury selection were all denied.

[READ: Witness describes moments after OPD officer was fatally shotSade Dixon accused Markeith Loyd of abuse before her death, family says | Shooter in pregnant woman's death has extensive criminal history]

Some issues, such as whether the OPD officers' statements can be compelled and whether certain details about the Clayton case can be introduced during the Dixon trial, have not yet been ruled on. It's also possible that some motions, specifically the sequestering of the jury, can be revisited if it becomes necessary.

Schwarz said members of the jury sometimes become too close when they're sequestered. 

"At this point, I'm comfortable with my decision to sequester the jury," Marques said. "However, if during the questioning of the jurors, factors begin to develop that would change my mind, I would certainly let you know. Or if you develop any further concerns, I will readdress issue of sequestration at that time."

Marques granted the defense's motions to exclude evidence about a gun and bulletproof vest authorities said were found to be in Loyd's possession during his arrest but not connected to Dixon's death and to depose two FDLE agents.

Previously, a motion to have Marques removed from the case was denied. Loyd's attorneys claimed she exhibited bias against him while ruling in a case involving Loyd's son. The court ruled that wasn't the case.

Jury selection is set to begin Friday at 8:30 a.m.

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