Florida Jury Recommends Death Penalty For Man Convicted Of Killing Black Orlando Police Officer

The judge will make the final life or death decision.

An Orlando jury on Wednesday (Dec. 8) recommend a death sentence for Markeith Loyd, in a case steeped in controversy over capital punishment.

WOFL reports that all 12 jurors voted unanimously for a death sentence instead of life in prison for Loyd, 46, who was convicted in November of the first-degree murder of Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton.

"I'm glad this is over. it's been a long time coming. It's been five years almost. I'm just happy it's over," WESH quoted the slain officer’s family member Seth Clayton after the jury read its decision.

Loyd fatally shot Clayton, 42, at an Orlando Walmart on Jan. 9, 2017 when she tried to arrest him during a manhunt for fatally shooting his pregnant ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon a few weeks earlier, the Associated Press reported.

A jury previously convicted Loyd of first-degree murder for killing Dixon and her unborn child. In that case, the jury recommended a life sentence instead of the death penalty in October 2019.

Ultimately, the judge will rule, at a later hearing, whether Loyd gets life in prison or death, according to WOFL.

But on Wednesday, after the jury read its recommendation, Loyd asked the judge to sentence him right away without holding a hearing, WESH reported. The judge declined his request.

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There was a contentious debate and legal battle between former Governor Rick Scott and the then-State Attorney Aramis Ayala over whether to pursue the death penalty against Loyd for slaying Dixon and her unborn child, CNN reported.

Ayala said she opposed capital punishment because it was too expensive, inhumane and fails to reduce crime. Pursuing a death sentence “is not in the best interest of this community or the best interest of justice,” she stated, according to CNN.

Scott removed Ayala, who was elected to her position, from the case before Loyd’s trial for slaying Dixon started. That prompted the prosecutor to sue the governor. Ultimately, the state Supreme Court sided with Scott.

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