Markeith Loyd’s family, friends take the stand to argue against death penalty

State rests case; defense moves for judgement of acquittal

ORLANDO, Fla. – The penalty phase of Markeith Loyd’s second murder trial continued Wednesday after prosecutors rested their case the previous day and Loyd’s defense team moved for judgment of acquittal.

Loyd was sentenced to life in prison in 2019 for murdering Sade Dixon, his 24-year-old pregnant ex-girlfriend. He now faces the death penalty for the killing of Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton in 2017 after a jury found him guilty on five charges in November, including first-degree murder.

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The defense first called on Peter Cadiz, a detective with the Orlando Police Department who led the investigation of Clayton’s killing. The defense asked Cadiz to describe the injuries Loyd sustained while being arrested.

“Superficial injuries…swollen lip…injury under his right eye,” Cadiz said.

Attorney Terry Lenamon asked Cadiz if Loyd’s eye was missing during his arrest.

“I didn’t see an eye missing,” Cadiz said.

The defense questioned Emma Watford, who said she’s known Loyd since the ‘90s because her sons were friends with him and they went to school together.

Watford described an incident in 1993 in which Loyd and one of her sons were badly beaten.

“Markeith’s face looked like he had been beat with a gun,” Watford said. “He reminded me of elephant man, he was beat just that hard.

Following the incident, Watford said that Loyd’s whole demeanor changed, becoming more withdrawn.

The defense called on Tonya Loyd, one of Markeith Loyd’s sisters, who described what it was like growing up with him in Carver Shores. After moving there together, Tonya Loyd said that their mother would often disappear, leaving no food or resources for her children.

Tonya Loyd said that their early life was “survival of the fittest,” and that if one wanted respect, “you had to fight.”

Markeith Loyd would steal food and clothes to provide for his siblings, his sister said, and was for the same reason that Tonya Loyd said he began selling drugs.

A final witness Wednesday for the defense was forensic neurologist Dr. Jeffrey Colino.

Colino testified on Loyd’s neurological health, saying he had organic psychosis and orbital frontal syndrome, which caused distorted perceptions, delusions and paranoia.

Colino said this affected Loyd’s ability to conform to the law.

About the Author:

Brandon, a UCF grad, joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021. Before joining News 6, Brandon worked at WDBO.