Judge for Markeith Loyd trial says he will likely push start date back

Defense says state trying to expedite trial before attorney appointment expires

By Mark Lehman - Reporter, Mike DeForest - Investigative Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - The judge presiding over the homicide trials of Markeith Loyd said he would likely be setting new, later trial deadlines that will give Loyd's defense more time.

No other major action was taken during a hearing on Thursday. Judge Frederick J. Lauten said he would likely not give the defense much more time than what is already scheduled, after calling the defense's argument for extension "weak."

“I’m thinking the January to April timeframe to try this case," Lauten said. "Maybe January is a little too soon, but I’d like to try it in the first quarter of next year.”

Loyd is accused of killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Sade Dixon, in December 2016, and later fatally shooting Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton at a Walmart when she attempted to arrest him. The trial for Dixon's homicide is scheduled for September, while the trial for Clayton's homicide is scheduled for January 2019.

At a hearing last week, defense attorney Terence Lenamon said the state is trying to expedite the trial because Gov. Rick Scott's executive order appointing Brad King as the prosecutor in the case expires on March 16. King was appointed by Scott in 2017 to replace State Attorney Aramis Ayala due to her prior opposition to the death penalty.

Lenamon said if the case is still active when the executive order expires, the governor would have to extend the order, and it's not known who the governor will be.

“I don’t have a smoking gun,” Lenamon said, “but never have I seen this pressure to get a case done.”

At last week's hearing, the state denied the claim of trying to rush the trial and suggested the defense choose a trial date.

Lauten said that even if the appointment expires, it could still be extended. He also said Ayala has offered to help ensure King stays on the case as special prosecutor.

Lenamon said King has told him the judge was the one who set the trial schedule, not King himself. King reaffirmed this in his statement to the judge.

“The March 19 deadline has nothing to do with my intent or my attempt to push this case to trial,” King said.

King argued that the state has the right to a speedy trial. He also pointed out that Loyd's case has been ongoing for two years.

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