ORLANDO, Fla. — Nearly three years after he was accused of shooting and killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend and an Orlando police officer, Markeith Loyd’s trial process is finally underway.
Jury selection started Friday morning for his trial in the death of his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Sade Dixon. Channel 9 legal analyst Bill Sheaffer said the process is expected to continue for up to a month.
Attorneys said they expect to go through approximately 2,000 potential jurors over the next month to try to form an impartial jury.
So far, more than half of the potential jurors have said they recognize Loyd.
Sheaffer said it will be difficult to find jury members who haven't heard of the case. Loyd has been in the headlines since he was accused of shooting and killing Dixon in December 2016 and then Lt. Debra Clayton in January 2017 outside an Orange County Walmart.
As of now, the two cases will be tried separately. But since the cases are so closely connected, the judge told prosecutors they can use evidence from one case in the other.
That could still change as jury selection progresses, if defense attorneys can persuade the judge to keep the cases totally separate and to not use the same evidence in both trials.
"It is unlikely that the judge is going to start picking a jury and at some point say 'Uh oh, I'm going to reverse my decision,'" Sheaffer said.
As jury selection begins, there are also new questions about witness and former convict Brian Striby. Striby’s description of Loyd shooting Clayton prompted the original ruling about mixing evidence between the two cases.
Loyd's lawyers said Striby’s willingness to testify against Loyd got him special treatment.
Channel 9 obtained an email that Striby's lawyer wrote to the state attorney's office seeking leniency, saying Striby is a man with a troubled past who is "trying to move on with his life."
The lawyer said Striby just happened to be "first on the scene in the shooting of [Clayton]."
The prosecutor wrote back, saying she did not "feel comfortable offering him probation."
"That issue doesn't go to the admissibility of the evidence. It goes to the weight and credibility that the jury finds as to that evidence," Sheaffer said.
Loyd is charged with first-degree murder in both cases and could face the death penalty if convicted.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings was the sheriff when both killings, and the following manhunt for Loyd took place.
“I personally believe that he committed a crime,” Demings said.
Demings said he believes there is only one answer in this case to try to relieve some of the lingering pain it caused.
“If there is ever a case where an individual perhaps should be considered for the death penalty, it would be that case,” he said.
Cox Media Group