Jury: Man guilty of sexually battering woman at gunpoint

Lead Prosecutor Zachary VanDyke (left and right), led the successful prosecution of Markeal Donvelt.

A Bay County jury found a man guilty as charged Tuesday of numerous charges related to sexually battering a woman while holding a gun to her head, and robbing her and her boyfriend, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Markeal Donvelt Byrd, 40, a transient, was found guilty of Sexual Battery with the Use of a Deadly Weapon, Carjacking with a Firearm, Robbery with a Firearm, and Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon.

Prosecutor Zachary VanDyke and co-prosecutor Barbara Beasley called 6 witnesses, including the two victims: the woman who was sexually battered and her boyfriend who was threatened and robbed at gunpoint on March 30, 2022.

“This is true justice for the victim,” VanDyke said. “The prompt response and actions of the Bay County Sheriff’s Office deputies and investigators, like Inv. Jake McGowin and Inv. Madison Stocks, made this successful prosecution possible.”

BCSO Inv. Madison Stocks testifies about the gun she wrestled from the defendant.
Prosecutor Zachary VanDyke shows the gun to jurors.

The jury deliberated for less than 30 minutes. Circuit Court Judge Shonna Young Gay set sentencing for Aug. 7.

VanDyke is seeking enhanced sentences by designating the defendant as a Habitual Felony Offender, a Habitual Violent Felony Offender, and a Prison Releasee Reoffender. The defendant faces Life in prison.


The witnesses and evidence proved that the boyfriend was in a car outside his girlfriend’s place of employment when he met the defendant and the two smoked marijuana. When the woman got off work, the defendant said he could get more marijuana for them if they would give him a ride from the beach into town.

After a failed attempt to find marijuana at a Callaway home, the male victim testified the defendant grabbed him in a bearhug, pulled a pistol on him, and forced him back into the car. The defendant held both victims at gunpoint and forced them to drive to a St. Andrews area ATM.

The defendant and his attorney.

Testimony showed the defendant ordered the male victim to walk to a nearby ATM to withdraw money, while he stayed in the car and sexually battered the woman at gunpoint.

The defendant then forced them to drive to the Thomas Drive area. He forced them out of the car and stole it.

The victims were able to find someone with a cellphone to call Bay County sheriff’s deputies, who caught the defendant at a convenience store getting gas with the stolen vehicle.

Basford thanked the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, the victims for their testimony, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement which provided DNA evidence corroborating the victims’ statements.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at mike.cazalas@sa14.fl.gov, or call 850-381-7454.