Florida Supreme Court denies Markeith Loyd’s request for rehearing

The Florida Supreme Court has declined a request for a rehearing made by Markeith Loyd, a man convicted of shooting and killing an Orlando police officer in 2017. Loyd’s attorneys filed the motion in November, seeking a reconsideration of the court’s ruling that upheld his conviction and death sentence for the murder of Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton. However, the justices did not provide any explanation for their decision to deny the rehearing motion.

Loyd’s motion was focused on the use of music during the sentencing proceeding, specifically during the presentation of a montage of photos of Clayton. According to the motion, the music was intentionally used to appeal to the emotions of the jurors, which the defense argued was improper. They contended that such evidence, which solely aims to evoke emotional responses, should be considered reversible error due to the subjective nature of penalty-phase decision-making. The defense emphasized the difficulty in determining the extent to which individual jurors’ decisions may have been influenced by such evidence.

The Supreme Court’s decision to reject the rehearing motion was supported by Chief Justice Carlos Muniz and Justices Charles Canady, Jorge Labarga, John Couriel, and Renatha Francis. Justice Jamie Grosshans, a former Orange County circuit judge, recused herself from the case, while Justice Meredith Sasso, who joined the court in May, did not participate in the decision.

Markeith Loyd’s conviction and death sentence stem from the fatal shooting of Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton. Clayton had encountered Loyd at a Walmart store while he was facing an arrest warrant for the murder of Sade Dixon, who was pregnant with his child at the time. Loyd’s attorneys had sought a new sentencing hearing by requesting the Supreme Court to send the case back to a circuit court.

With the Supreme Court’s denial of the rehearing motion, Loyd’s conviction and death sentence remain in place. The decision marks another significant development in a case that has garnered considerable attention due to the heinous nature of the crimes committed.

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