ORLANDO, Fla. — A jury on Wednesday unanimously agreed that Markeith Loyd, the man convicted of murdering Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton, should face capital punishment.
What You Need To Know
- Markeith Loyd was convicted of killing Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton outside a Walmart in 2017
- Loyd had to be removed from court after he spoke out
- PREVIOUS COVERAGE of the Markeith Loyd trial
All 12 jurors needed to agree on the death penalty.
Emotions were high for Clayton's family members, and those of Loyd as well, as the verdict came down.
“I can’t put into words what she meant to me, and to be taken away like that so sudden is hard, for anybody,” said Clayton's husband, Seth Clayton.
Coming to court was not easy for Clayton’s sisters, but they said she would want them to be strong.
“I felt like she was there with us, I just felt her presence — I always miss her, and she got justice today,” said Ashley Thomas.
Clayton's family members said they believe the jury’s decision was the right one, even though they know it was a decision that wasn’t easy to make.
“No one wants for a life to be taken, but my sister’s life was taken,” said Clayton's sister, Anita Young.
Members of Loyd’s family said they did not want to comment, but his attorney, Terence Lenamon, summed up his reaction.
“There were no winners in this case, no winners,” he said.
And as Lenamon did in his closing argument to the jury before their deliberations in the case, he brought up Clayton’s work to bridge the gap between cops and the community, and what could have been if someone with her drive had been around when Loyd was young.
“If someone like her was around when my client was growing up in Carver Shores, we wouldn’t be here today,” said Lenamon.
After the sentencing, Loyd claimed that he tried to turn himself to law enforcement while he was on the run in 2017, but claimed law enforcement "was trying to kill me."
Judge Leticia Marques had him removed from court for speaking out of turn and toward the gallery.
As he was being removed from the courtroom, Loyd told his family, who were seated near Spectrum News reporter Jeff Allen, “I love you all.”
Members of his family replied, “We love you, too.”
Clayton’s family were crying following the jury’s decision.
Watch the jury give the verdict reading
Jurors had been sequestered overnight in a hotel after completing three hours of deliberations on Tuesday. They continued deliberations Wednesday morning, only breaking once to have testimony read back to them before returning to deliberate.
After two days of deliberating for a total of four to five hours, the jury reached it's decision.
It was the same jury that last month found Loyd guilty of murdering Clayton.
The Orlando Police Department tweeted out a message from Police Chief Orlando Rolón, who thanked the jury and the prosecutorial team for their service during the course of the trial.
He also praised Clayton for her service as a police officer and member of the community.
"Forever bridging the gap, Lieutenant Debra Clayton proudly served the City of Orlando with Courage, Pride, and Commitment. The example she set is one I will strive to honor every day," Rolón wrote.
Loyd is already serving a life sentence for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon and their unborn child, which prompted the deadly encounter with Clayton at the parking lot of Walmart at Princeton Street and John Young Parkway in Orlando on Jan. 9, 2017.
The state pushed for the death penalty, saying Loyd believed himself to be above the law.
"We ask that for the first time, you hold him responsible for his choices, and vote to recommend a sentence of death in this case," prosecutor Ryan Williams said on Tuesday.
Several witnesses testified this week, including Loyd's daughter Kianna Loyd, who said she and her daughter care for him very much and asked the jury to spare his life.
The defense said Loyd had a delusional fear the police were out to kill him.
"We're not asking you to re-evaluate a conviction. That's already done. He's convicted of those charges," Lenamon said during the penalty phase of the trial. "We're asking you to look at what was going on and who Markeith Loyd was mentally during that period of time."
Loyd did not testify during this penalty phase of the trial.
He did take the stand in the guilt phase of the proceedings, before he was convicted by the jury.