By Alex Jimenez
ORLANDO, FL – Before the state rested its case in the Florida v. Markeith Loyd trial Thursday, Judge Leticia Marques individually questioned four jurors about a conversation they had about the trial.
Loyd is accused of fatally shooting Lt. Debra Clayton of the Orlando Police Department outside a Walmart in January of 2017 while she was trying to bring Loyd in on a warrant for the murder of his pregnant ex-girlfriend.
The day started with Judge Marques reviewing and denying a motion for mistrial filed by the defense, followed by the judge addressing jury issues. Jurors then heard multiple testimonies from the lead detective, crime scene investigator and weapons expert.
After the jury was dismissed for the day after the state rested its case, the judge heard testimonies regarding Loyd’s previous case back in 2007 where he attacked a correctional officer.
Before witness testimony began, the defense had filed a motion for mistrial, arguing that during yesterday’s testimony by Detective Shane Overfield he had alluded to the name of Orange County Deputy Norm Lewis who was killed in a car crash responding to the Walmart shooting scene.
As part of a stipulation, the officer who was killed was not to be mentioned and the concern was that members of the jury might have overheard the detective alluding to the officer.
After viewing yesterday’s transcripts the judge ruled against the motion adding that “I just don’t believe that the jury caught it, and if they caught it, I don’t think any harm was done.” The judge said that the mention was quick and brief.
The judge then addressed the issue of the four jurors being overheard by a deputy discussing aspects of Wednesday’s proceedings.
The jurors were apparently overheard making comments about the judge’s visible frustration over the audio, Lloyd’s outburst in court and the apparent frequency of stoppages and objection in court.
After the judge questioned all four jurors, the same sentiment could be heard that they did not believe the topics being discussed were important and were just casual conversation. “There was a comment about yourself being frustrated about the audio usage, microphone usage, by one individual,” said one of the jurors.
It was also apparent that the jurors were not discussing evidence nor substantial facts about the case but rather observations about the judge, Loyd, and other administrative matters.
The rest of the jury was then brought in, and Judge Marques reminded the court that they could not discuss anything about the trial with anyone until deliberation.
“It comes to my attention that a couple things are going on that I think are a result of my not giving you enough information,” said Judge Marques.
In testimony, Karen Livengood, who is a crime scene technician, stood before the court to discuss the 9mm and 40 caliber casings found at the crime scene.
The state then called on its last witness, firearms examiner Richard Ruth who previously worked for the state’s Division of Law Enforcement. He told the jury that the same gun was used to kill both Lt. Clayton and the ex-girlfriend.
The prosecution would rest its case after the witness testimonies and the jury would be excused for the day.
Later, the court heard a testimony from California Corrections Officer Eric Stokes, who detailed Loyd’s attack on another corrections officer in a California prison. The officer was apparently slammed to the ground two to three times according to Stokes. Loyd was charged for assaulting the officer.
Public Defender Eric Kersten, who represented Loyd in that case, was last to testify before the court, telling the judge that he did not believe that Loyd intentionally meant to hurt the officer. Kersten was a part of a negotiation to reduce the felony charge to a misdemeanor.