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Man guilty in death of missing teenager

LOVINGSTON—A jury convicted a 48-year-old man Thursday on charges he abducted and killed a Nelson County teenager who disappeared last summer.

Randy Taylor was found guilty of first-degree murder in commission of an abduction and abduction with intent to defile, according to media reports.

Alexis Murphy’s body has never been found. She was 17.

Jurors recommended a life sentence on both convictions. Sentencing was set for July 23.

Murphy disappeared last August. She was last seen at a gas station in Lovingston. Authorities found her car several days later in an Albemarle County parking lot.

After the verdict, Taylor’s attorney asked if his client could be excused from the courtroom. Before Judge J. Michael Gamble could respond, Taylor dashed out, but was quickly surrounded by deputies, The News & Advance of Lynchburg reported.

Surveillance video from the gas station where Taylor was last seen on Aug. 3 showed Murphy’s vehicle following Taylor’s truck.

Prosecutor Anthony Martin said Taylor “lured” Murphy to his camper about a mile away, killed her in a violent struggle and disposed of the body. Martin did not provide a theory on why Taylor’s body was never found.

Defense attorney Michael Hallahan argued there wasn’t enough evidence for a conviction.

About 50 people, many Murphy family and friends dressed in pink clothes or wearing red ribbons, were in attendance in the courtroom.

Laura Murphy said pink was her daughter’s favorite color.

After Murphy vanished, pink ribbons went up across Nelson County as a sign of hope that the teen would return home.

Jurors began their deliberations Thursday morning and announced their verdict by late afternoon.

Orange County authorities have said that Taylor has been a person of interest in the disappearance of another teen who remains missing.

For three years, Orange town and county officers have investigated the disappearance of Samantha Ann Clarke. The 19-year-old left her home in the town of Orange late Sept. 13, 2010, or early the next day, telling her brother, “I’ll be back,” an Orange prosecutor said.

Clarke hasn’t been seen since then by her family.

In the hours before her disappearance, she was on the phone five or six times with Taylor, another Orange prosecutor said.

Taylor was ruled out as a suspect in what’s known as the “Route 29 Stalker” case in Culpeper County because he was in a Virginia prison at the time of those incidents that culminated in the death of 25-year-old Alicia Showalter Reynolds.