Orlando cop killer sentenced to death appeals to US Supreme Court

ORLANDO, Fla. — A man sentenced to death for killing an Orlando police officer in 2017 has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that a prosecutor misled jurors during sentencing proceedings.

An attorney for Markeith Loyd filed a petition April 30 at the U.S. Supreme Court challenging a Florida Supreme Court decision that upheld Loyd’s conviction and sentence in the murder of Lt. Debra Clayton. A notice of the appeal was posted Thursday on the Florida Supreme Court website.

Assistant Public Defender Nancy Ryan, an attorney for Loyd, contended that a prosecutor misled jurors about seeking unanimity in their deliberations about Loyd’s sentence.

“Specifically, this (U.S. Supreme) Court disallows argument that misleads jurors as to the role they play under local law in the capital sentencing process, and misleads them in a way that allows them to feel less responsible than they should for the life-or-death decision,” the petition said. “Here that line was crossed. The prosecutor argued that the jurors should, or must, do their best to achieve unanimity as to the ultimate question before them, a position inconsistent with Florida’s substantive law.”

The Florida Supreme Court rejected that argument and others in a November decision.

In 2017, Florida lawmakers passed a measure to require unanimous jury recommendations before defendants could be sentenced to death, though they eliminated the unanimity requirement in 2023.

Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office, in a filing Thursday, asked the U.S. Supreme Court for an extension of time to file a response to the petition.

Loyd shot Clayton after she spotted him in a Walmart store while he faced an arrest warrant in the murder of Sade Dixon, who had been pregnant with his child.