In Markeith Loyd’s Status Hearing, Ayala’s Appeal Denied

In the drama surrounding Florida Governor Rick Scott’s reassignment of a state attorney Brad King as the prosecutor of accused double murderer Markeith Loyd, the criminal trial itself has fallen into the background. Orange-Osceola County state attorney Aramis Ayala’s appeal of the governor’s executive order has taken center stage instead, something 9th Circuit Court Chief Judge Frederick J. Lauten put to rest today for the time being.

Note: Judge Lauten enters the courtroom on this video at about the 12:53 mark:

The first order of business in the Tuesday, March 28, 2017, status hearing for Markeith Loyd ahead of his criminal trial was for Judge Lauten to appoint two private attorneys as stand-by counsel for Loyd. At this time the defendant re-affirmed he intends to represent himself, but the judge also wants stand-by counsel to be present in order to stay informed of all the details surrounding the state’s case against Loyd should the defendant ask for counsel to represent him at any stage of the court proceedings.

The court then addressed Loyd’s mention of headaches at his previous hearing on March 20, 2017, as well as alleging law enforcement struck him on the head during his apprehension. While stating that Loyd has conformed to court decorum for Judge Lauten, the court explained to the defendant that while Loyd has been judged to be competent to make the choice as to whether or not to represent himself, Lauten, “out of an abundance of caution,” has ordered a psychological evaluation of Loyd to determine his competency to represent himself as he has chosen to do.

Loyd interrupted the judge to say that he objects to that psychological evaluation, which Lauten acknowledged he had received the defendant’s written motion to that effect, but that the court was still seeking the psychological evaluation. Judge Lauten told Loyd he cannot force Loyd to talk to the psychologist, but hopes that Loyd will do so.

Lauten then clarified that he hopes the psych evaluation will both determine the defendant’s competency to stand trial and to make the decision on whether or not to seek legal counsel, something the court has done up to this point but seeks a qualified mental health professional to determine conclusively.

In the last order of the hearing, the court heard arguments in Aramis Ayala’s motion of March 20, 2017, to stay the Loyd criminal proceedings while Ayala appeals Gov. Scott’s order to remove her as prosecutor of Markeith Loyd. Ayala’s legal counsel began by questioning the authority of Gov. Scott to remove Ayala from Loyd’s criminal case.

After some back and forth between prosecutor Brad King and Ayala’s attorney, Judge Lauten ruled that he recognized the governor’s authority to make the decision that he did and would not stay the Loyd criminal proceedings as requested by Ayala. Lauten suggested that Ayala and her attorney take their case to the state supreme court instead, which in his opinion is a more appropriate venue for the arguments than in the 9th District Court.

When Florida 9th Circuit Court state attorney Aramis Ayala, sworn into office in January 2017, announced on March 16, 2017 that not only would she not be seeking the death penalty in the state’s double murder cases against Markeith Loyd but also not against any defendant during her time in office, Gov. Scott acted quickly.

With outcry from law enforcement and some members of the public, Gov. Scott asked Ayala to recuse herself from prosecuting the Loyd trial on that same day. When Ayala refused to do so, the governor used what he termed his executive authority to remove Ayala from the case and assigned 5th Circuit Court state attorney Brad King as the prosecutor of record in the Markeith Loyd cases. (

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