Murder of Alexis Murphy

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Murder of Alexis Murphy
DateLast reported seen August 3, 2013
LocationVirginia
SuspectsRandy Taylor
Put on trial for murder May 1, 2014[1]
Found guilty May 8, 2014

Alexis Murphy was a 17-year-old female from Nelson County, Virginia who went missing on August 3, 2013.[2][3] She was last seen at a gas station in Lovingston, Virginia. Her remains were never recovered, but evidence was recovered from a vehicle and camper (referred to as a trailer by some outlets) belonging to 48-year-old Randy Taylor.[4]

Taylor was put on trial for Murphy's murder on May 1, 2014. He was found guilty a week later and given two life sentences.[5] Taylor was also linked to the disappearance of Virginia teenager Samantha Clarke, who went missing in 2010.[6]

Disappearance[edit]

On August 3, 2013, Murphy left her home in Shipman, Virginia to travel to Lynchburg. She was last seen at a gas station in Lovingston on the evening of August 3, where she was driving a white 2003 Nissan Maxima. In the following days, she was reported as missing and a search was launched.[7] Murphy's car was found on August 6 in Albemarle County, where it had been abandoned in a theater parking lot.[8] On August 10, the police announced that they were trying to identify photographs of persons seen in close proximity to Murphy. The following day, a suspect, later identified as Taylor, was arrested.[7]

Investigation[edit]

Prior to arresting Taylor, police investigated him as one of several people who appeared on the gas station's surveillance video.[9] The police searched Taylor's camper, where they found a strand of Murphy's hair.[10] As Taylor lived near a river, dive teams and canine units conducted a search and found a red sweater.[11] The sweater was initially speculated to have belonged to Murphy, but an investigator later stated otherwise.[12] Several cell phones were also found and sent to Quantico for testing.[13] Authorities found DNA evidence that Murphy had been in Taylor's camper.[14]

On September 24, 2013, Taylor was indicted on two felony charges.[15] In January 2014, Taylor was indicted on charges of first-degree murder, first-degree felony murder and abduction with the intent to defile, as well as an unrelated grand larceny charge.[16] Investigators conducted a final search of Taylor's property shortly before he was set to be tried.[17]

Trial and sentencing[edit]

Taylor's case was brought to trial on May 1, 2014. Jury selection took about eight hours to complete and the trial was presided over by Judge Michael Gamble, who issued a gag order for the case.[clarify][18] Taylor pleaded not guilty to the charges of murder, stating that while Murphy had been in his camper, she had arrived with another man, Damien Brown, in order to buy marijuana and that the two had left together.[19] His lawyer, Michael Hallahan, argued that law enforcement did not fully investigate this claim and focused predominantly on Taylor despite Brown leaving the state shortly after Murphy disappeared.[19][20]

Evidence brought against Taylor included testimony from a cashier at the gas station, a bloody T-shirt;[21] and evidence pulled from Taylor's camper, which included the strand of hair, a torn fingernail, and a diamond earring stud.[20] Hallahan had made a pretrial attempt to suppress statements and the evidence found via search warrants, but this was denied.[22]

On May 8, Taylor was found guilty on the charges of first-degree murder in the commission of an abduction and abduction with intent to defile in connection with the disappearance of Murphy.[23] During the sentencing, Taylor tried to bargain for a lesser sentence. He said that a third person had been involved and that he would reveal the location of the body in exchange for a twenty-year sentence; Taylor's offer was declined.[24]

On July 23, 2014, Taylor was given two life sentences.[25]

Jesse Matthew link and appeal[edit]

In October 2014, shortly after the remains of Hannah Graham were discovered, Taylor requested that authorities perform a DNA test on Jesse Matthew.[26][27][28] Taylor's lawyer alleged that because Matthew had been linked to several disappearances, including that of Morgan Dana Harrington, that he could have been responsible for Murphy's disappearance.[27] Hallahan also requested a social media analysis to see if Murphy had ever contacted Matthew via any of her social media accounts.[29] Nelson County Commonwealth's Attorney Anthony Martin remarked there was nothing to tie the two cases together but ran the requested tests,[27] which ruled Matthew out as a suspect.[30]

In December of the same year, Taylor filed an appeal, claiming that he did not receive a fair trial and that he received poor representation from Hallahan.[31] His appeal was denied in May 2015 and a second appeal was filed with the Supreme Court of Virginia.[32]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Maeser, Nadine. "Day 2: Alexis Murphy's blood found on shirt Randy Taylor was wearing, prosecution says". WDBJ7. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  2. ^ "New search for long-missing Va. teens". CBS News. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  3. ^ "Family still hopes to find missing teen Alexis Murphy". CNN. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  4. ^ Mazurowski, Maura. "Tests find no DNA link between Jesse Matthew and Alexis Murphy". Collegiate Times. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  5. ^ Mohrmann, Barrett. "Randy Taylor gets two life terms in Alexis Murphy murder". News Advance. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  6. ^ Arkell, Harriet. "Suspect in case of missing student, 17, may have links to the case of another missing girl, 19, from Virginia". Daily Mail. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  7. ^ a b "Timeline: The Search for Alexis Murphy". NBC 29. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  8. ^ "Missing Nelson County Teen's Car Found". NBC 29. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  9. ^ CAULFIELD, PHILIP. "Va. teen Alexis Murphy's alleged kidnapper charged with murder". New York Daily News. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  10. ^ O'Dell, Larry. "Randy Allen Taylor Wrong Man Arrested In Alexis Murphy Case, Lawyer Claims". Huffington Post. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  11. ^ MOHRMANN, BARRETT. "Sweater found in search for Alexis Murphy". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  12. ^ "Investigators Find Alexis Murphy's Cell Phone". WSET.com. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  13. ^ Mohrmann, Barrett. "Alexis Murphy's phone found, could 'reveal a lot'". News Advance. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  14. ^ McKelway, Bill. "DNA evidence shows Alexis Murphy was at defendant's trailer". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  15. ^ Wise, Scott; Patterson, Jerrita. "Randy Taylor indicted in Alexis Murphy case". WTVR. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  16. ^ "Randy Taylor Indicted on First-Degree Murder Charges". NBC 29. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  17. ^ "Investigators Search Alexis Murphy Murder Suspect's Property". NBC 29. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  18. ^ "Randy Taylor Abduction and Murder Trial Day 1". NBC 29. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  19. ^ a b Faulconer, Justin. "'Trial of a lifetime:' Randy Taylor goes on trial Thursday in Alexis Murphy case". News Advance. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  20. ^ a b "UPDATE: Cashier Testifies Alexis Murphy, Randy Taylor Talked". WSET. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  21. ^ Bryan, Alix. "The 5 things people get wrong about Alexis Murphy and Jesse Matthew". WTVR. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  22. ^ Maeser, Nadine. "Judge denies motions to suppress search warrants in Randy Taylor case". WDBJ 7. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  23. ^ Faulconer, Justin. "Randy Taylor found guilty; jury recommends life sentences". News Advance. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  24. ^ "Lawyer: Randy Taylor knows location of Alexis Murphy's body". WTVR. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  25. ^ MOHRMANN, BARRETT. "Randy Taylor sentenced to two life terms in Alexis Murphy murder". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  26. ^ Vultaggio, Maria. "Jesse Matthew Update 2014: Is Hannah Graham Suspect Linked To Alexis Murphy?". International Business Times. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  27. ^ a b c Dutton, Nick; French, Laura. "Commonwealth's attorney will order 'scientific testing' to rule out Jesse Matthew in Alexis Murphy case". WTVR. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  28. ^ "UPDATED: Alexis Murphy's Family Reacts to New Search for Missing Teen". Newsplex. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  29. ^ Wise, Scott; French, Laura. "Did Alexis Murphy chat with Jesse Matthew on social media?". WTVR. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  30. ^ "Update: Jesse Matthew's DNA Not Matched to Alexis Murphy Case". WSET. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  31. ^ Mohrmann, Barrett. "Appeals process underway for Randy Taylor". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  32. ^ "VA Court of Appeals Denies Randy Taylor's Appeal". NBC 29. Retrieved 17 May 2015.