LAKE MARY, Fla. - A man accused of killing an Orlando police officer in 2017 will represent himself when his murder trial is set to begin in October.
A judge has granted the request by Markeith Loyd to act as his own attorney after reviewing a hand-written motion submitted by Loyd in which he writes, "a trial court must permit a defendant to represent himself upon ascertaining that he has voluntarily and intelligently elected to do so irrespective of how unwise such a choice might appear to be."
Loyd is accused of gunning down Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton on January 9, 2017, after she tried to arrest him at a Walmart on Princeton Street.
Detectives said Loyd had been on the run after he fatally shot his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Sade Dixon. In 2019, Loyd was convicted of first-degree murder in the killing of Dixon and their unborn child. He was sentenced to life in prison.
Clayton was a police master sergeant at the time of her killing. She was posthumously promoted to the rank of lieutenant at her funeral service on Jan. 14, 2017, by then-Orlando Police Chief John Mina.
Orlando Police Master Sgt. Debra Clayton was posthumously promoted to lieutenant after authorities said she was killed in 2017,
While Loyd's motion to defend himself has been granted for his next trial, defense attorneys Terence Lenamon and Ted Marrero are to remain as standby counsel, according to the Orange County Clerk of Courts.
Loyd’s lawyers have said his defense, in this case, will be insanity and he will argue that he was acting in self-defense and that he was afraid of law enforcement.
"I don't think there is any question that he's the one that shot Sgt. Clayton. That's not really the issue. The issue is that number one, we have insanity, mental health issues that complicate everything," Lenamon said following Loyd's 2019 conviction. "As importantly, if you look at the video footage with Sgt. Clayton, she confronts him at the front door, he runs. He doesn't have a weapon when he runs, he claims she shoots at him, and that is when he pulls his gun. And then it becomes an issue that he's defending his life and she's shooting at him and that's what really transpires."
Lenamon added, "the question becomes was it right for him legally to do it, was it logical in a regular person state of mind to do that, or whether someone has hyper-vigilance when people have post-traumatic stress disorder or mental illnesses."
During a pre-trial hearing in April, Loyd told a judge, "I was trying to turn myself in. I was trying to turn myself in. Walmart never had to happen. I’ll turn myself in if they show me they’re not trying to kill me."
The trial is scheduled to start on October 8.
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