Markeith Loyd, who is serving life in prison for killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend and her unborn child in 2016, was found guilty on Wednesday in the fatal shooting of a police officer during the ensuing manhunt.
Loyd was convicted on five charges, including first degree murder of a police officer, in relation to the death of Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton, court records show. He’s scheduled to be sentenced on November 6, according to the court filings. The other charges he was convicted of include attempted first degree murder, aggravated assault, carjacking with a firearm, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Prosecutors have filed notice of intent to seek the death penalty, Assistant State Attorney Ryan Williams said via email on Thursday.
Loyd had been previously convicted of killing Sade Dixon and her unborn child in December 2016, sparking a massive manhunt. While on the run, he shot and killed Clayton in January 2017 outside a Walmart and was arrested days later.
Clayton, 42, was a master sergeant in the police department at the time of her death; she was posthumously promoted to lieutenant.
“I dreamed of this day, that he would be found guilty of this charge,” Orange County Sheriff John Mina said, according to CNN affiliate WESH. Mina was Orlando Police chief at the time of Clayton’s death.
Loyd’s first murder trial led to political clash
Regarding the death of Dixon, Loyd avoided the death penalty in October 2019 when a Florida jury unanimously voted not to recommend the sentence. He was convicted that month of first-degree murder, first-degree murder of an unborn child and attempted first-degree murder, along with two counts of attempted felony murder.
The question of whether Loyd would get the death penalty after his first trial had led to a contentious legal and political fight in the state. Before the trial started, then-Gov. Rick Scott removed the elected Florida state attorney from Loyd’s case after she said she wouldn’t seek the death penalty in his or any cases.
State attorney Aramis Ayala had argued that evidence showed the death penalty was overly expensive, slow, inhumane and did not increase public safety. Ayala said after “extensive and painstaking thought and consideration,” she determined that pursuing the death penalty “is not in the best interest of this community or the best interest of justice.”
She sued Scott over her reassignment, and the legal disagreement reached the state Supreme Court. The court ruled that Scott was within his right to reassign the cases.
Loyd was arrested days after shooting Clayton. He was caught in an abandoned home dressed in body armor and carrying two handguns, police said. In the video after the arrest, Loyd’s face appeared to be swollen and bruised, and he said, “They beat me up! They beat me up!” as he walked past reporters.
The defense at the first trial argued Dixon was reaching for a gun before Loyd started shooting, CNN affiliate WFTS reported. Loyd’s actions leading up to the shooting were evidence of premeditation, prosecutors argued.
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