Orlando Murder Suspect Allowed to Represent Self

Markeith Loyd, 41, who has been arrested on 11 criminal charges, including two counts of first-degree murder and killing of an unborn child due to injury to mother, was ruled competent to waive his right to counsel in an Orlando, Florida court on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017.

At the beginning of the hearing, being held due to Loyd’s stated intent to represent himself in previous court appearances, Judge Lauten explained a number of reasons why Loyd may wish to reconsider his decision to go to court without legal counsel. Loyd complained about his eye injury, sustained during his arrest on Jan. 17, 2017. Lauten explained that Loyd currently has been arrested on 11 criminal charges, but not yet formally charged by the state of Florida.

The judge was diligent in trying to understand if Loyd was merely waiving his right to a court-appointed attorney and intended instead to hire an attorney, or if Loyd actually wanted to represent himself. Loyd answered the judge’s questions with one or two words, finally saying that, yes, he was choosing to represent himself.

Lauten also asked Loyd questions related to specific court procedures, such as jury selection, filing motions and more. When Loyd indicated he wasn’t familiar with those procedures, the judge pointed out to him that a lawyer with only weeks of experience would be familiar with all those procedures. Lauten pointed out that the prosecution would be represented by experienced attorneys versus Loyd’s own inexperience.

Judge Frederick Lauten, Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit Court of Florida, who presided over Loyd’s competency hearing, asked a number of questions of the suspect who sat in the jury box between two corrections officers and appeared less visibly agitated than in previous court appearances. Loyd answered Lauten’s initial questions and then later in the proceedings, stating that he attended school through the 10th grade, obtained his GED, is taking pain medications for his left eye injury and has never been under psychiatric care before he stopped answering the jurist’s questions.

Full Competency Hearing for Self-Representation of Markeith Loyd:

Lauten ruled that for the moment, he was ruling that Loyd was competent to make the decision to waive his right to counsel and granted Loyd phone privileges to talk with family members, many of whom were in attendance at Thursday’s hearing, about his decision to represent himself and the many factors associated with such a decision in what may be a death penalty case. The judge was careful to explain that the day’s hearing was not to determine whether Loyd was competent to represent himself but only to determine his competency to make the choice of self-representation.

Loyd was non-responsive to a number of the judge’s questions, from whether he could sufficiently hear the judge or whether his inability to see out of his left eye hindered his ability to read, something necessary to read documents as his case proceeds. Loyd was also non-responsive to Judge Lauten’s question about whether or not the suspect wanted to learn what a stand-by attorney was and what that person would do if Loyd represented himself in court.

The hearing convened after Lauten explained to Loyd that Thursday’s hearing was a Foretta hearing, the name given to the proceeding when a person has requested self-representation and that that hearing was only the first of many Foretta hearings that may take place as circumstances warrant.

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