Markeith Loyd defense to claim insanity in shooting of Orlando lieutenant as jury selection begins


Markeith Loyd, convicted of first-degree murder in the killing of his pregnant ex-girlfriend in 2016, with his attorney Terence Lenamon, gestures to the gallery after being sentenced to life in prison, in Orange circuit court, in Orlando, Fla., Wednesday, October 23, 2019. Loyd will go on trial again next year, accused of killing an Orlando police officer in 2017. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

ORLANDO, Fla. (WESH) — After more than a year of delays, Markeith Loyd went on trial Friday for the murder of Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton.

The trial was supposed to happen in May 2020 but was postponed because of COVID-19. Jury selection began Friday morning at the Orange County courthouse.

Defense attorneys say jury selection could take up to three weeks. This week, Loyd made his final requests to the judge before he went on trial.

However, before jury selection even began Loyd and his attorney disagreed on how to handle his defense.

The issue steps from Loyd’s conviction for murdering his pregnant ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon. Loyd’s lawyer wants the jury to hear about it.

The Orlando Police Department had been searching for Loyd in January 2017 after he shot and killed his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Sade Dixon.

When Clayton confronted him at a Walmart, investigators said Loyd shot and killed her.

Loyd and his lawyers have signaled that he’ll claim Clayton fired first and that he was defending himself. They’ve also told the court he will use an insanity defense, saying he was paranoid and thought police were out to kill him.

Loyd is already sentenced to life in prison.

If convicted of Clayton’s murder, he could also go to death row.

On this first day of jury selection, Loyd’s attorney said he’s not happy with the diversity, on the first group of potential jurors brought in.

“This panel of 60 has three African Americans. The African American population in the county is 19.9%, what we have on this jury is a little over 4%. Clearly, it’s disproportionate and not even close to what the statistical number should be,” Terence Lenamon said.

Those who are chosen for the trial will be sequestered and have to stay in a hotel room.

WESH 2 Legal Analyst David Haas says his defense has to find some way to defend what jurors will likely see with their own eyes.

“This particular homicide, it’s my understanding, is captured on surveillance video. So raising a defense when the case has what you call a push play case, where they’re going to be able to show the jurors what happened, it’s a difficult case for the defense to present,” Haas said.

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