Prosecutors handling the first of two murder cases involving accused cop-killer Markeith Loyd are using changes to the Florida Constitution to try to fast-track Loyd's first trial.
In November, voters approved Marsy's Law — a constitutional amendment allowing victims the right to a speedy trial, just like defendants.
Prosecutors throughout Central Florida confirmed no one has attempted to test that portion of the amendment in the 9th Judicial Circuit, which is made up of Orange and Osceola counties. They said that leaves the effort to speed up Loyd’s trial in relatively uncharted waters.
Fifth Circuit prosecutors, who are handling Loyd’s cases because of 9th Circuit State Attorney Aramis Ayala’s previous opposition to the death penalty, said they had successfully used Marsy’s Law to lobby earlier this year for a speedy trial involving a Marion County DUI manslaughter defendant.
For more than two years, the death penalty has loomed for Loyd based on accusations that he shot and killed his pregnant ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon and Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton.
"The old adage is 'death penalty cases are different,'" WFTV Legal Analyst Bill Sheaffer said. “Two years is not an unreasonable period of time.”
Loyd was indicted in February 2017. He’s been in court dozens of times since then, often launching into the kinds of outbursts that delay things further.
But in November of 2018, Marsy's Law changed the Florida Constitution after voters approved it as Amendment 6 on the election ballot.
For the first time in Florida, victims have the right to “proceedings free from unreasonable delay.”
Accordingly, state attorneys are allowed to “file a good faith demand for a speedy trial.”
Loyd's prosecutors — the 5th Circuit’s Brad King and his assistants — say the existing trial date in May is perfect. They’re asking Chief Judge Fredrick J. Lauten to enforce it.
During a hearing on Feb. 27, he went on an extended tirade against Lauten, whom he said was not God, and against unnamed law enforcement officials allegedly conspiring against him.
"I done been framed for murder, a murder I know nothing about," Loyd said during the hearing.
Loyd’s lawyer fueled the state's quest for a quick trial later during the same hearing by agreeing in court that the facts surrounding Dixon's killing are relatively “simple.”
"Obviously the defense had no idea when they made that statement that someday it may come back to haunt them when the state asks for a speedy trial," Sheaffer said, adding that changes pertaining to
Marsy’s Law are so new, no one is sure how judges will rule in these cases and whether it can actually speed things up.
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