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    1. #11
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      Oct 2010
      FBI: Alexis Murphy's cell phone found

      Authorities said Tuesday that a cell phone recovered during the search for missing Nelson County teen Alexis Murphy has been identified as belonging to her.

      Murphy was last was seen at the Liberty gas station in Lovingston on Aug. 3, when family members thought she left her Shipman home to go shopping. Randy Allen Taylor, 48, was arrested Aug. 11 and charged with abduction in connection with her disappearance.

      Authorities had asked for the public's help in finding Alexis' phone. During their investigation, officials recovered several phones, and laboratory analysis has now confirmed that one belonged to the teenager, the FBI said.

      The FBI did not specify where or when the phone was found, only saying it was one of "several phones ... recovered during the course of this investigation."

      Authorities have conducted multiple searches during their investigation, including at Taylor's home off U.S. 29 north of Lovingston, in the Charlottesville area and, on Saturday, in the Rockfish River.

      During that river search, authorities took into evidence a red sweater. However, Nelson County Investigator Billy Mays said Tuesday that the sweater did not belong to Alexis. He declined to go into further detail.

      Taylor has been held without bond since his arrest. His attorney, Michael Hallahan, maintains his client's innocence, saying Alexis left Taylor's home with another man the same night she disappeared. Alexis' family has disputed that claim.

      In an FBI news release Tuesday morning, authorities said "absolutely no further information" will be released aside from the positive identification of Alexis' phone.

      "This sole release of information is only being made to advise the public that we no longer need assistance looking for that one item," the FBI said.

      A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    2. #12
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      Oct 2010
      New 'person of interest' in Alexis Murphy case

      A new person of interest emerges in the disappearance of Nelson County teen Alexis Murphy. Tonight, her family still believes the man behind bars in connection with Alexis's abduction is the single suspect. Murphy's family says investigators have been working to follow up on the lead put out by Randy Allen Taylor, the man arrested and charged with abduction in the case. Last month, Taylor's attorney gave a description of who the suspect says was last with Murphy. Taylor told his lawyer that he had met Murphy on the night of her disappearance and she had connected him with the other man to buy marijuana. Murphy's family still thinks Taylor is lying and that investigators are just doing their job by talking to this person of interest. The FBI says it will report anything substantial at the appropriate time. Authorities have not made any other arrest in this case, and Randy Taylor's abduction charge will go before a Nelson County grand jury Tuesday.


      Nelson County investigators say they have located and contacted someone they are describing as a new 'person of interest' in the Alexis Murphy abduction case.

      Investigators say they were following up on claims from Randy Taylor's lawyer, Michael Hallahan, that his client may have not been the last person to see Murphy before she went missing. Taylor claims another man had been present and provided him drugs with Alexis there.

      The Nelson County teen has been missing since Saturday, August 3, when she was reportedly on her way to Lynchburg. The last place she was seen is a Liberty gas station in Lovingston.

      A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    3. #13
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      Oct 2010
      Taylor indicted in disappearance of Nelson teen

      A grand jury in Nelson County indicted Randy Allen Taylor on two felony charges Tuesday — one for the abduction of missing teen Alexis Murphy and one for possessing a stolen all-terrain vehicle.

      Commonwealth’s Attorney Anthony Martin said in a news release that the charge for possessing the stolen vehicle was not related to the investigation of Murphy’s disappearance.

      The Shipman teen was last seen Aug. 3 at the Liberty gas station in Lovingston. FBI agents and Nelson authorities launched an extensive search after she left home, having told her family she was making a shopping trip to Lynchburg, and never returned.

      Authorities located her car in the parking lot of the Carmike Six Cinema on Gardens Boulevard in Albemarle County three days after her disappearance. Earlier this month, the FBI announced it had identified Murphy’s phone as one of several collected while investigating.

      Authorities have been tight-lipped on the investigation’s details.

      During Taylor’s Aug. 22 bond hearing, his lawyer, Michael Hallahan, said police should be seeking a man who visited Taylor’s tiny camper with Murphy on the night she disappeared. The man and Murphy left in separate cars from the Lovingston plot where Taylor lives, and he never saw them again, Hallahan said in August.

      Hallahan said in court that he “told law enforcement about the individual identified as the adult who saw Alexis since [Taylor] saw Alexis. His position is that he is not the culprit.”

      “We’ve given law enforcement everything we’ve got,” about the other man, Hallahan said.

      Hallahan told reporters in August that Taylor bought $60 worth of marijuana from the man and the two smoked marijuana and drank bottles of Icehouse beer Aug. 3 while Murphy looked on. Murphy’s family last saw her at about 7 p.m. that day. Taylor described the man as black, in his early 20s, wearing cornrows and driving a 1990s sedan with 22-inch rims, Hallahan said.

      Authorities repeatedly have declined to comment on Taylor’s claim about the other man.

      On Sunday, some outlets, including Blue Ridge Life Magazine, reported that police had contacted an out-of-state “person of interest.” The magazine on Twitter attributed the comments to Nelson Sheriff David Brooks.

      Multiple messages left with Brooks, other Nelson authorities and Hallahan were not returned this week.

      FBI spokeswoman Dee Rybiski said in an email Tuesday afternoon that she could “only confirm that this remains a very active and sensitive investigation and that the leads developed through the course of this investigation continue to be pursued.”

      Rybiski cited the FBI’s last news release from Sept. 3. In that release, the FBI “advised that in order to preserve the integrity of the case and ensure that Mr. Taylor gets a fair trial in Nelson County no further release of information would occur,” she wrote Tuesday.

      Rybiski encouraged anyone with information about the case to call the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office at (434) 263-7050. “Law enforcement appreciates the community’s support, encouragement and understanding for confidentiality as this case moves forward,” she said.

      Taylor is being held without bond at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail. Martin said Taylor would appear in Nelson Circuit Court on Oct. 23 for a trial date to be set.

      A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    4. #14
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      Oct 2010
      Suspect in Alexis Murphy Disappearance Gets Trial Dates

      The case against a man charged with abducting a Nelson County teenager is moving forward.

      At a hearing Wednesday, a judge set aside February 3 to 14 for the trial of Randy Allen Taylor.

      Taylor is accused of abducting 17-year-old Alexis Murphy, who hasn't been seen since she disappeared from Lovingston on August 3.

      Commonwealth's attorney Anthony Martin revealed Wednesday that he currently has about 50 witnesses in the case.

      In court, Taylor maintained his innocence, saying if he were to be arraigned Wednesday, he would have pleaded not guilty. Taylor will formally be arraigned at a later date.

      Alexis' great aunt sat through Wednesday's hearing. She says she still believes Taylor is behind Alexis' disappearance.

      "The man responsible for abducting Alexis was in that courtroom today. He's the only man responsible," said Trina Murphy. "It's clear that he's a predator and he is relentless and he doesn't have any remorse for what he's done."

      While a trial date pushes the case one step further, Alexis' family says the next few months will continue to be difficult.

      "Obviously it's going to be hard during the holidays," said Alexis' aunt Angela Taylor. "Thanksgiving, even Halloween -- Alexis liked Halloween. It's not going to get any easier from this. It hasn't been easy. It's only going to be tough for the holidays to have her place at the table and not have her there."

      Trina Murphy says she remains optimistic investigators and authorities are doing what they can to find Alexis.

      "We had and continue to have the best team possible assembled to find Alexis and to bring Randy Allen Taylor to justice, and that's exactly what will happen," said Trina Murphy.

      Taylor is also charged with receiving stolen property. That charge is not tied to Alexis’ disappearance. A trial has been set for February 18 on that charge.

      On Friday, Nelson County High School will host a "Pink Out" event in honor of Alexis at the football game. Pink is the missing teen's favorite color, which has become a symbol in her search. Attendees are encouraged to wear pink to show support.

      A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    5. #15
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      Oct 2010
      Motion Filed to Request Gag Order in Randy Taylor's Trial

      One of the most publicized cases in the area may soon be one of the most tightly guarded.

      Commonwealth's attorney Anthony Martin filed a gag order on the trial of Randy Taylor, the man charged with the abduction of Nelson County teen Alexis Murphy, missing since August 3.

      Taylor's trial is set for next February.

      The gag order will allow neither police nor potential witnesses to say anything to media that could hamper attorneys from choosing a fair and impartial jury.

      The hearing for the gag order is this Wednesday.

      Nelson County Commonwealth's Attorney Press Release

      Last week in Nelson County Circuit Court, Commonwealth's Attorney Anthony Martin filed a motion with the court asking that a gag order be entered in the case involving the abduction of Alexis Murphy.

      Randy Allen Taylor is currently charged with abduction and is scheduled for a jury trial beginning in February 2014. The motion was filed by Martin in an effort to prevent potential witnesses, parties and law enforcement officials from disclosing sensitive information to the media and public which could hamper a fair and impartial jury from being impaneled in Nelson County.

      Martin cited increased media reports of other missing person cases as part of the basis for the request. Martin also said his concerns of pre-trial publicity in the Alexis Murphy case is unique as it is the only case in the surrounding area involving a missing person where a defendant is charged and is awaiting trial.

      The motion will be heard in the Nelson County Circuit Court on Wednesday, December 11th at 9:30 a.m. Law enforcement officials emphasize that the investigation into the whereabouts of Alexis Murphy is ongoing.

      A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    6. #16
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      Oct 2010
      Timeline: The Search for Alexis Murphy

      August 03, 2013: Alexis Murphy leaves her home in Shipman, Virginia on Saturday evening, reportedly headed for Lynchburg. She tweeted "Burg Bound" to her Twitter followers Saturday afternoon. Alexis was last seen at a gas station in Lovingston, Virginia. According to Nelson County Sheriff David Brooks, surveillance video shows Murphy at the Liberty gas station in Lovingston at 7:15 p.m. Saturday. She was driving a white 2003 Nissan Maxima, license plate number WYN3706.

      August 04, 2013: Nelson County Sheriff's Office begin investigating Murphy's disappearance.

      August 05, 2013: FBI and Virginia State Police join the search for Alexis. Investigators search a property on Cannery Loop in Lovingston for Alexis' phone.

      August 06, 2013: FBI issues statewide bulletin. Alexis' car, a white 2003 Nissan Maxima, is discovered in the parking lot at the Carmike 6 Theater in Albemarle County between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Dogs trace a scent from the car to Arden Place apartments in Charlottesville. More>>>

      August 07, 2013: Search crews comb the Route 29 corridor in Albemarle County for clues and collect surveillance video. FBI holds press conference on the investigation. More>>>

      August 08, 2013: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children adds Murphy details to their website. FBI issues updated statewide bulletin. A candlelight vigil is held at the Nelson County High School football field. FBI confirms Alexis' phone is not active. More>>>

      August 09, 2013: Neighbors confirm that the FBI searched two homes and yards on Cannery Loop on Monday. Neighbors say the FBI told them that the area is where they picked up the last ping from Alexis' cell phone. The FBI says they will be taking their search to a national level. More>>>

      August 10, 2013: FBI agents canvass businesses in Angus Road area of Charlottesville, attempting to identify photos of people seen in close proximity to Murphy on other surveillance cameras. FBI releases information on the case to the national media. More>>>

      August 11, 2013: A suspect is taken into custody and charged with abduction in the disappearance of Alexis Murphy. Investigators actively search in the Cannery Loop area Sunday night. The FBI completely blocks off a property right off of Route 29 in Lovingston. More>>>

      August 12, 2013: Man arrested on abduction charge associated with Alexis' disappearance is identified as 48-year-old Randy Taylor. FBI holds a news conference to discuss developments in the case. More>>>

      August 13, 2013: Randy Taylor appears in Nelson County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court for his advisement hearing on his felony abduction charge. Attorney Michael Hallahan is appointed to represent Taylor. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for January 9, 2014 at 10 a.m. Authorities confirm Taylor appears on the same surveillance video from the Liberty gas station in Lovingston that Murphy appears on the last day she was seen. The FBI also confirms that Murphy's cellphone has not been found. Alexis' case makes national news, getting spotlighted by HLN's Nancy Grace. More>>>

      August 14, 2013: Federal agents return to the home of abduction suspect Randy Taylor to search the house and the property. K-9 units also on scene searching the surrounding area. Through his lawyer, Randy Taylor shares his account of what happened the night Alexis was last seen. More>>>

      August 15, 2013: The FBI moves its operations out of Nelson County and into Albemarle. A bond hearing is scheduled for Randy Taylor. The FBI confirms that several cellphones have been recovered in the search and that they are working to determine whether one belonged to Alexis. More>>>

      August 16, 2013: According to Alexis' family, the FBI has sent cellphones found in the case to Quantico for testing. Her family also addressed marijuana allegations against Alexis.

      August 17, 2013: The Nelson County community shows support in the search for Alexis. The Nelson County High School Volleyball team honored Alexis during jamboree. A Lovingston flower shop owner distributes pink bows to show support of the search for Alexis.

      August 21, 2013: Nelson County judge bars media and public from bond hearing for suspect Randy Taylor. Bond hearing scheduled for Thursday, August 22. More>>>

      August 22, 2013: Abduction suspect Randy Taylor denied bond. Taylor waived his right to a preliminary hearing, case to go before grand jury on September 26. More>>>

      August 23, 2013: Alexis' family struggles for normalcy as the search moves into it's third week. Community members have helped raise money for her parents who have both taken leave from work since her disappearance. More >>>

      August 24, 2013: The FBI takes their search for Alexis nationwide. The FBI posted two "seeking information" alerts and press releases on their website and national news outlets started receiving all information about the case. More >>>

      August 29, 2013: Alexis' Nelson County volleyball teammates remembered her by wearing pink ribbons in their hair during their opening games of the regular season. More >>>

      August 31, 2013: More than 50 search and rescue personnel from around the commonwealth scanned about 10 locations in Nelson. Ground teams used dogs to sift through wooded areas along Rt. 29 near Lovingston while dive teams searched the Rockfish River. Investigators are still calling the operation a "search and rescue." More >>>

      September 1, 2013: A reported from Lynchburg's News and Advance witnessed dive teams collect a red sweater during a search of Rockfish River late Saturday afternoon. Nelson Sheriff's investigators say they cannot confirm any items found during the search belong to Alexis. More >>>

      September 3, 2013: FBI confirms Alexis' cell phone has been found, no further details released at this time. More>>

      September 22, 2013: Nelson County investigators confirm contact with but do not identify a "person of interest" in the case, matching the description in abduction suspect Randy Taylor's account of the night of Alexis' disappearance. Taylor remains suspect and no additional arrests are made.

      September 24, 2013: Suspect Randy Taylor is indicted on an abduction charge, as well as an additional, unrelated charge. More >>>

      September 29, 2013: Around 50 people conducted searches throughout different parts of Nelson County. Authorities say some of the locations were new, some of the locations had been surveyed before. The new locations were not specified, but authorities stressed these were just areas they were interested in searching. More >>>

      October 17, 2013: The Nelson County Sheriff's Office asks hunters across central Virginia to stay vigilant for any clues that could help find Alexis. More >>>

      October 23, 2013: A trial date was set for Randy Taylor, charged with Alexis' abduction. More >>>

      October 25, 2013: Nelson County High School hosted a "pink out" at their home football game to honor and remember Alexis Murphy. More >>>

      December 01, 2013: Hundreds of people poured into Nelson County to help search for Alexis Murphy. Crews making up the first all-volunteer search scanned a wooded area along Route 29, including the property where abduction suspect Randy Taylor lived. More>>>

      December 03, 2013: A Christmas tree with pink lights and bows went up at the Liberty gas station in Lovingston where Alexis Murphy was last seen to mark four months of her missing. More>>>

      December 09, 2013: Nelson County Commonwealth's Attorney Anthony Martin filed a motion for a gag order in the trial of Randy Taylor.
      A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    7. #17
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      Oct 2010
      Taylor charged with first-degree murder of Alexis Murphy; new trial date set

      The man accused of abduction in the August disappearance of Nelson County teenager Alexis Murphy now faces one count of first-degree murder.

      Randy Allen Taylor, 48, was arrested Aug. 11, eight days after 17-year-old Alexis vanished. He initially was charged with one count of abduction but Nelson County Commonwealth's Attorney Anthony Martin announced Monday morning that a special grand jury indicted Taylor on charges of murder, first-degree murder during the commission of abduction, and abduction with intent to defile.

      The most pressing question — the whereabouts of Alexis — was not resolved in proceedings Monday afternoon in Nelson County Circuit Court. Martin declined to comment apart from the earlier statement made outside the Nelson County Sheriff's Office with Alexis' family in attendance; her family also did not comment on specifics of the case or if her body has been found.

      Michael Hallahan, Taylor's attorney, also did not comment, citing a recent gag order that prevents law enforcement and legal parties connected to the case from divulging information.

      Taylor was set for a two-week jury trial starting Feb. 3 on the abduction charge, but Martin said at Monday’s hearing that he has dropped the charge following the recent indictments. Martin has said he planned to call about 50 witnesses to testify and Hallahan has said Taylor was prepared to plead not guilty.

      A new trial date of May 1 was set for the homicide charges and abduction charge. The case could take up to two weeks to complete, Nelson Circuit Judge J. Michael Gamble said Monday.

      A special grand jury convened last week, at Martin's request, to hear evidence and consider indictments prepared in the Murphy case, he said. There is probable cause for the new charges, he added, but did not elaborate on the evidence at the news conference or in court.

      "The return of indictments only means that the grand jury found that probable cause exists for the charges I mentioned and that Randy Taylor should go on trial for those charges," Martin said. "The defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."

      Trina Murphy, Alexis' great-aunt, said in brief remarks after the hearing, "the [Murphy] family just wants to give thanks for everyone who supported us and continues to support us.

      "We ask for continued prayer in support right now because we need that more than anything."

      When asked, she said: "We really can't speak to any specifics of the case ... we just really want to let everyone know we appreciate all the effort that has gone on the past five months."

      She said people have showered her family with food and phone calls, and simply showed up to give a hug.

      "Of course, my family is devastated," she said, reacting to the new charges against Taylor. "I can't stand here and say that we're not. But we're going to stand in our faith in God and push through the next five months and have our day in court."

      She said her family is blessed with the open communication with law enforcement and prosecutors in the case.

      Trina Murphy said he has never looked her way in court.

      "I want him to feel my presence," she said of Taylor. "When he's here [in court], I will be here."

      The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Virginia State Police also have investigated Alexis' disappearance, which has generated widespread news coverage and piqued community interest. Authorities have been tight-lipped about the case, sealing search warrants and affidavits. An August bond hearing in which specifics on the initial abduction charge was discussed was closed.

      Martin has said those measures are to ensure a fair and impartial jury trial for Taylor takes place in Nelson County. Gamble last month approved the gag order at Martin's request in the interest of preserving a fair trial.

      A strand of hair was found in Taylor's home, according to authorities. The indictments served against Taylor on Monday allege he willfully and with premeditation killed Alexis while he was abducting or attempting to abduct her.

      Hallahan said shortly after his client's arrest Taylor denied involvement and sold marijuana to a black male with cornrows who was in his trailer along with Alexis, but he never saw them again.

      Martin said in court Monday he anticipates being ready to try the murder case in early May, adding an analyst on the witness list is on maternity leave. Hallahan said Taylor prefers the dates in February set aside for the original trial.

      Gamble said he had concerns that Taylor would not have enough time to prepare a defense on the homicide charges in such a short time period.

      Trina Murphy said the family is not opposed to the new trial date. "We want to make sure that justice is served and whatever we have to do to make that happen we're willing to do."

      Taylor also faces two grand larceny charges in Nelson County Circuit Court, which are unrelated to the Murphy case but could carry additional jail time if he is convicted. Those charges will be tried in court after the murder trial concludes.

      B.B. Shavers, who helped organize a search for evidence linked to Alexis in December, said this murder case and other missing person cases are driving a message to educate young people about potential dangers. He said the disappearance of Alexis hopefully is a way to "save the next girl."

      "It's sad all the way around," he said.

      A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    8. #18
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      Oct 2010

      Attorney requests change of venue for murder trial against Randy Taylor

      The attorney for the man accused of abduction and murder in the disappearance of Nelson County teenager Alexis Murphy seeks to have the spring jury trial held outside of Nelson County.

      Randy Allen Taylor, 48, is charged with first-degree murder, murder during commission of abduction and abduction with intent to defile related to the disappearance and suspected death of Murphy, 17, who last was seen Aug. 3. He was arrested less than two weeks after her disappearance and initially faced one count of abduction. He was indicted on the upgraded charges earlier this month.

      He is set for a jury trial in Nelson County Circuit Court on May 1. Michael Hallahan, Taylor's attorney, filed a motion last week seeking the venue change out of concern about the heightened publicity the case has generated, which he argues could hinder a fair and impartial trial.

      "The media coverage on this case has been relentless from August 2013 to present, including local, state and national news agencies," the motion reads. "The defense would venture a guess that there has not been a single newspaper, radio station, or television station that hasn't covered this case."

      Though Nelson County Commonwealth's Attorney Anthony Martin announced the new charges against Taylor earlier this month, he and authorities have not addressed her whereabouts or the evidence that led to the murder indictment due to a gag order.

      The order, granted in December by Nelson Circuit Court Judge J. Michael Gamble, was enacted to help ensure a fair jury trial for Taylor in Nelson County, Gamble said during the December hearing.

      Search warrants and affidavits have been sealed and a bond hearing for Taylor was closed to the public to keep details "under wraps" in attempts to ensure a fair trial, Martin has said in court. Earlier this month, he said in a statement that "probable cause" was found to indict Taylor on the murder charge.

      Martin and Hallahan have said they are not speaking with the media about the case, citing Gamble's order. Murphy's family through a representative, Alexis' great-aunt Trina Murphy, said they also will not commenting on specifics in the interests of keeping the trial in Nelson County.

      "Of course my family is devastated," Trina Murphy said Jan. 6. "But we're going to stand in our faith in God and push through the next five months and have our day in court."

      Hallahan's motion casts doubts that Taylor will get a fair trial in Nelson.

      "The named victim's face is displayed on a poster in almost every public place in Nelson County," the motion reads. "The defendant has been named in every news story as the suspect. Nelson County is a small, rural community and news of the suspect most likely isn't lost on any of its residents."

      The defense hopes the case will be transferred to another jurisdiction, or at least, a jury pool will be selected from elsewhere so Taylor would have "a better chance at receiving a fair trial," the motion reads.

      The Charlottesville attorney was quoted in a newspaper article in August 2013 saying his client is innocent. He said Murphy and another man were in Taylor's trailer in Lovingston near the time of her disappearance but they left and Taylor never saw them again. Hallahan said at Taylor's October arraignment that his client intended to plead not guilty to the initial abduction charge.

      Martin said during the October arraignment he plans to call about 50 witnesses to the stand.

      Hallahan also filed a motion last week seeking to have the court prohibit witnesses from mentioning Taylor's status in the 2010 disappearance of Orange County teenager Samantha Ann Clarke. Taylor was questioned by Orange County prosecutors as a person of interest, according to news reports.

      The motion argues his status as a suspect in the Orange County case should not be broached at trial.

      "This evidence is not admissible and would be extremely prejudicial against the defendant," the motion reads. "This fact was used in numerous search warrants in connection with the case."

      Hallahan filed another motion last week requesting Taylor be allowed to dress in professional attire and not jail-issued clothing during the trial.

      A pre-trial motions hearing is set for 2 p.m. Feb. 7 in Nelson County Circuit Court.

      A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    9. #19
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      Oct 2010
      Taylor trial to stay in Nelson County

      A judge on Friday denied a defense attorney’s request to relocate the Nelson County jury trial of a Lovingston man charged in connection with the disappearance of Alexis Murphy.

      Randy Allen Taylor, 48, is charged with first-degree murder, murder during commission of an abduction and abduction with intent to defile. His trial is set to begin May 1.

      Murphy, 17, of Shipman, last was seen Aug. 3 at a gas station in Lovingston. Taylor was arrested eight days later.

      Michael Hallahan, Taylor’s attorney, filed a motion seeking to change the venue for the trial. He said widespread media attention, coupled with Nelson’s rural community atmosphere, could hinder a fair and impartial jury trial for his client.

      Judge J. Michael Gamble overruled Hallahan’s request during a hearing Friday in Nelson County Circuit Court.

      In court, Hallahan mentioned the headlines in newspapers across Virginia and the nation, which are described in his motion as “relentless.”

      “This case has an enormous amount of publicity,” he said.

      In the days following Murphy’s disappearance, he said law enforcement officers went “door to door” interviewing people about the case in various parts of Nelson County, including the area around Taylor’s home off U.S. 29.

      That caused “a lot of talk,” he said, mentioning the abundance of posters with Murphy’s image hanging in many parts of the county.

      “I think there is too much personal knowledge ...” Hallahan said in court.

      Relocating the trial would bring it to jurors who are not swayed by proximity and publicity tied to the case, he said.

      Nelson Commonwealth’s Attorney Anthony Martin agreed the case has generated heavy media attention, adding it was “a concern” for the prosecution.

      He referenced other cases in Virginia that have attracted such attention and still had trials in the same jurisdiction in which the offenses took place.

      He argued the commonwealth took steps to keep details “under wraps” from the outset to protect a fair trial for Taylor, including sealing search warrants and affidavits, closing a bond hearing and obtaining a “gag order” to keep parties in the case from sharing information.

      Martin also addressed the added costs to taxpayers of moving a trial outside of Nelson.

      “We’ll go wherever we need to go to try this case,” Martin said, adding that he did not think it was necessary to relocate.

      He said the defense must prove “widespread prejudice” against Taylor among the citizenry.

      “I don’t think they’ve done that,” he said.

      Gamble also referenced a few other murder cases in the past 30 years in rural areas like Nelson, including the high-profile case of Douglas Buchanan Jr. in the late 1980s in Amherst County.

      Buchanan was found guilty in 1988 of capital murder and four counts of first-degree murder in the vicious shooting and stabbing death of his father, stepmother and two stepbrothers. He was executed in 1998.

      Gamble said the core issue is seating a jury that can be fair and impartial. If there is a struggle to get one seated, then a change of venue could be back on the table. The case is not at that point yet, he said.

      “The issue here is whether or not there has been inaccurate pre-trial publicity,” Gamble said.

      While the media coverage has been heavy, Gamble said that at this point he could not say there has been any publicity “so inaccurate, inflammatory or ill-timed” as to halt a fair trial moving forward in Nelson.

      “This isn’t the first high-profile case we ever had around here,” Gamble said.

      Also Friday, Gamble granted a defense motion prohibiting witnesses from mentioning any other missing-person cases in Virginia in relation to Taylor during the trial.

      Hallahan said search warrants stated Taylor was a person of interest in the case of Samantha Ann Clark, a young Orange County woman missing since 2010.

      He said an Orange County investigator was one of the first to show up at Taylor’s home during the investigation into Murphy’s disappearance, and argued any reference to such cases is inadmissible.

      Martin said that at this point he has no plans of presenting evidence related to the Orange County case.

      “The defendant brought it up,” Martin said of the Orange case, but did not elaborate further in court.

      Martin and Hallahan have said they are not taking questions from the media, citing the gag order.

      Also Friday, Gamble granted a defense motion to allow Taylor to dress in professional attire during the trial.

      A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    10. #20
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      Oct 2010
      Murder Suspect in Alexis Murphy Case Due in Court

      The man accused in the death of a Nelson County teenager is due in court on Monday morning.

      Randy Allen Taylor, the man charged in the first-degree murder of 17-year-old Alexis Murphy, is scheduled to appear before a judge in Nelson County Circuit Court.

      Taylor was initially charged with abduction of the Nelson County High School senior in August, about a week after Alexis went missing. Prosecutors upped those charges earlier this year to include first-degree murder.

      Alexis was last seen at a Lovingston gas station on Aug. 3, 2013, and she still hasn't been found.

      A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

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