Expert: Markeith Loyd trying to take sovereign citizen status

By Jerry Hume, Anthony Leone, Bailey Myers, Erin Murray, Team Coverage
Last Updated: Wednesday, May 03, 2017, 8:40 AM EDT

This story was posted on: 11:17 p.m., Wednesday, March 01, 2017.

A judge entered multiple pleas of not guilty for accused cop-killer Markeith Loyd after he refused to give a "yes" or "no" answer during an arraignment Wednesday.

He was also assigned a standby lawyer, after because Chief Judge Frederick J. Lauten believes Loyd believes he is a sovereign citizen.

The 41-year-old Loyd is accused of killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Sade Dixon, and Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton. Judge Lauten entered not guilty pleas on behalf of Loyd for all the charges against him.

"For the record, I want to state that I am Markeith Loyd. Flesh and blood. I'm a human being. I'm not a fictitious person. I'm not a corporation," he said.

Loyd also interrupted Judge Lauten to say, “And therefore, I am going to tell you the fact, I am in due court, I accept the charges value. And I want to use my UCC financial statement, my number, to write these charges off.” 

Loyd asked why the court placed charges against him, but Lauten explained that the state of Florida was the entity that has charged him with the crimes.

"For the record Mr. Loyd wants to talk about the UCC and corporate status," sighed Judge Lauten, "Which is a position that certain citizens that are sometimes called Sovereign citizens take in courts of law, oftentimes misguided. But it is not the first time the court has heard that position.” 

Lauten also tried to explain to Loyd the importance of having a lawyer and how a lawyer would better understand how to go over the evidence and records. Lauten even asked whether Loyd wanted a standby lawyer to help him with the case if the accused killer decides to represent himself.

Lauten stated in court that Loyd has not been diagnosed with a mental issue and has never represented himself in court before. The judge said that Loyd is competent to defend himself, even though Loyd refused to talk about the charges. 

However, the judge appointed the public defender's office as a standby lawyer for Loyd.  The lawyer will just be there to instruct Loyd on the law if he has a question. 

Sovereign citizens and the courts

A sovereign citizen is someone who does not recognize the laws and authority held by the government. But that defense will not hold up in court.

“A sovereign citizen will have nothing to do with his conviction or defense even,” said criminal trial expert David Fussell. “It indicates about how much Mr. Loyd doesn’t know about what he is doing.”

Fussell said people who view themselves as sovereign citizens often do not want to pay for something, but said it can cross over into the criminal court.

“It comes up when someone doesn’t want to pay a particular debt to the government," Fussell said. "And they will go into court and will say 'I am a sovereign citizen and you have no authority over me.' But in criminal court, what usually ends up is they end up in jail, prison. Because there is no such thing as a sovereign citizen in the court system.”

What comes next

The state told the judge it has not decided whether to seek the death penalty and was not sure which case, Dixon's or Clayton's, would be tried first. Lauten made that decision for the state.

The Dixon case has a pre-trial date has been scheduled for 10 a.m., Monday, April 17, and jury selection will begin Monday, May 1. A status hearing has been scheduled for Monday, March 20, at 10 a.m. and Monday, April 3, at 10 a.m.

A pre-trial conference for the Clayton case is scheduled for Tuesday, June 13, and the case is set to begin on Monday, June 19. But status hearings for that case are the same dates and times as the ones for Dixon's case. 

In relation to Dixon's death, Loyd is being charged with a list of felonies, including first-degree murder with a firearm, killing of an unborn child by injury to the mother and attempted first-degree murder.

Loyd is also facing five charges in the killing of Clayton. No charges have been filed against Loyd in connection with Orange County Deputy Norman Lewis, who was killed while searching for Loyd after Clayton's death.

Loyd had received a one-week delay to make his plea and wanted to push back Wednesday's arraignment: Loyd wrote to Judge Frederick J. Lauten last week, asking him to delay Wednesday’s court date and to push it back to Friday. Lauten denied Loyd's request.