Suspect in Alexis Murphy abduction faces February trial date
By Liana Bayne
The Daily Progress, Charlottesville, Va. (MCT)
LOVINGSTON — A Nelson County circuit judge Wednesday set a February trial date for Randy Allen Taylor on a charge that he abducted Shipman teenager Alexis Murphy.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Anthony Martin asked for two weeks to be allotted for the jury trial, set for Feb. 3 through Feb. 14. He said he anticipated having at least 50 witnesses to call.
During the brief hearing, Taylor sat next to his lawyer, Michael Hallahan, in the small courtroom and kept his head turned away from the audience, which included Murphy’s aunt, Angela Taylor, and great-aunt, Trina Murphy.
Nelson Circuit Judge J. Michael Gamble asked Hallahan what Taylor’s plea would be if he were to be arraigned Wednesday. Hallahan said his client would have pleaded not guilty to both the abduction charge and an unrelated charge of possessing a stolen all-terrain vehicle. A Nelson grand jury indicted Taylor on both charges in September.
The hearing Wednesday was not a formal arraignment soTaylor, 48, did not enter a plea.
Alexis Murphy, 17, last was seen Aug. 3 at the Liberty gas station in Lovingston. She told her family she was making a shopping trip to Lynchburg. She never returned and has not been found.
FBI agents and Nelson authorities launched an extensive search. Authorities located her car in the parking lot of the Carmike Six Cinema on Gardens Boulevard in Albemarle County three days after her disappearance.
In August, Hallahan said police should be seeking a man who visited Taylor’s camper with Murphy on the night she disappeared. Hallahan said the man and Murphy left in separate cars. Hallahan said Taylor bought marijuana from the man and the two smoked and drank Icehouse beer while Murphy looked on.
Taylor identified 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 onTaylor’s claim about the other man.
“He doesn’t even have the heart to look at us,” Trina Murphy said of Randy Taylor as she stood next to Angela Taylor outside the courthouse following Wednesday’s hearing.
Angela Taylor said the time between now and the trial will be difficult.
“It’s obviously hard in the holidays,” she said.
Alexis Murphy loves celebrating Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, Angela Taylor said.
“It’s going to be tough to have her place at the table, but her not there,” Angela Taylor said.
Angela Taylor said this Friday’s football game at Nelson County High School would include a “pink-out” to honor her niece, with the volleyball team releasing balloons at halftime. Alexis played on the volleyball team.
“It’s a way to honor Alexis and let her know we’re thinking of her and want her home soon,” Angela Taylor said.
Randy Taylor is being held in the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail. A bench trial on the possession of stolen property charge is scheduled for Feb. 18.
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