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Markeith Loyd's family and defense team build case against the death penalty for killing cop

Loyd's lawyers are trying to convince the jury to spare his life by not recommending the judge give him death for the murder of Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton.
Credit: 10 Tampa Bay

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Testimony continued Thursday in the penalty phase of convicted killer Markeith Loyd's trial in Orange County, where the defense is now laying out its side of the case.

The 46-year-old was recently found guilty of the first-degree murder of Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton. Now, the jurors are hearing witnesses take the stand before they determine whether to recommend the death penalty for Loyd.

Under Florida law, the jury would have to unanimously recommend execution before the judge could consider sentencing Loyd to death. Even then, the judge could disregard the jury's recommendation and stick with life in prison.

It's important to note: Loyd is already serving a life sentence for murdering his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Sade Dixon. In fact, Lt. Clayton was trying to arrest him for that crime when prosecutors say Loyd shot her outside a Walmart in 2017.

CBS affiliate WKMG says Loyd's defense team began Thursday by calling a clinical psychologist who had evaluated him for trauma and PTSD.

“Mr. Lloyd spoke about very intense emotional experiences that he had as a child in relation to a couple of movies, specifically, one of them was Roots, another one of them was Mississippi Burning,” Dr. James Campbell told the courtroom, according to the CBS station. “They were again, racially motivated, systemic violence, systemic racism.”

A forensic neurologist suggested Loyd may have suffered from brain damage. 

And his family, on Wednesday, also testified against the death penalty, citing Loyd's troubled childhood. The Orlando Sentinel described how Loyd's younger sister told the jury he began stealing food and selling drugs as a teen, so he could provide for his four siblings.

The prosecution, on the other hand, argued during opening statements that the jury should consider aggravating factors that prove Loyd deserves to be put to death. Judge Leticia Marques did, WKMG reports, remove one of those factors from consideration – ruling the state did not meet its burden of proof that Loyd's murder of Clayton was especially heinous, atrocious or cruel.

RELATED: Jury to consider death penalty as Markeith Loyd trial enters penalty phase

READ MORE: Jury finds Markeith Loyd guilty of first-degree murder in 2017 killing of Orlando police officer