Suspect in shooting deaths of ex-girlfriend, Orlando officer indicted on 11 counts

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Markeith Loyd

ORLANDO, Florida — A central Florida grand jury has indicted Markeith Loyd in the shooting deaths of his ex-girlfriend in December and Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton in January, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Loyd was indicted on 11 counts, including murder, firearm and other charges in the December 13 death of Sade Dixon and the January 9 death of Clayton outside a Walmart, said Aramis Ayala, state attorney for Orange and Osceola counties.

“What my office has not and will not lose sight of is these tragedies all stemmed from domestic violence — and I take domestic violence very seriously,” Ayala said, adding that she has created a specialized unit to combat domestic violence.

Loyd was captured on January 17 after a nationwide manhunt.

Loyd and Dixon had been involved in a relationship and had a child on the way, authorities said. He had been on the run since that shooting at an Orlando residence.

On January 9, Clayton received word that Loyd was near the Walmart and tried to confront him.

Police Chief John Mina said the suspect “basically opened fire on her” as soon as Clayton told him to stop. Loyd continued to shoot Clayton even after she was down, Mina said.

Clayton apparently shot the suspect in the chest, but his bulletproof vest stopped the bullet, according to police.

There was another death in the case. Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy 1st Class Norman Lewis died in a crash while searching for Loyd on the day of Clayton’s death.

Hundreds of tips poured in and a reward ballooned to $100,000 in the search.

The manhunt led authorities to an abandoned house in Orlando’s Carver Shores area, where Loyd was captured.

Authorities said Loyd resisted arrest and suffered a fractured left orbital bone and damage to one eye in the process. Loyd said he didn’t resist.

Orlando police said it would investigate the amount of force used to apprehend Loyd. Ayala said that case hasn’t been handed over to her office.

Clayton was a master sergeant in the Orlando police at the time of her killing; she was posthumously promoted.

Loyd remains in custody in the Orange County Jail.

The six counts involving Dixon’s death are first-degree murder with a firearm; killing of an unborn child by injury to a mother; attempted first degree-murder with a firearm; two counts of attempted felony murder with a firearm; and one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

The counts involving Clayton are first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer with a firearm; attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer with a firearm; aggravated assault with a deadly weapon; carjacking with a firearm; and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

It’s unclear whether Ayala’s office would be able to seek the death penalty.

In January 2016, the US Supreme Court ruled that the process used to condemn a Florida death row inmate was unconstitutional because a judge rather than a jury was the final arbiter of fact in sentencing.

The 8-1 ruling came in a challenge filed by death row inmate Timothy Lee Hurst, who had been convicted of murdering restaurant co-worker Cynthia Harrison in 1998. The case was sent back to the Florida Supreme Court.

Florida legislators then overhauled the law and allowed a defendant to be sentenced to death if 10 of 12 jurors recommended it.

Last fall, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that a death sentence required a unanimous jury vote, striking down the new law.

A bill requiring that a jury unanimously recommend the death sentence is currently in the Legislature, CNN affiliate News 13 Orlando reported. If the jury is not unanimous, it can recommend a life sentence without parole.

Ayala said prosecutors are awaiting the outcome of the bill, but will proceed with the case as planned.