NELSON COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) - A special grand jury returned a first degree murder indictment against the man accused in the disappearance of Alexis Murphy, Nelson County Commonwealth's Attorney Anthony Martin announced Monday.
Murphy's parents stood behind Martin during the announcement. The 17-year-old Nelson County girl is still missing.
A grand jury indicted Randy Taylor on the following charges:
- First Degree Murder (of Alexis Murphy)
- First Degree Felony Murder (murder of Alexis Murphy during commission of a felony)
- Abduction (of Alexis Murphy) with Intent to Defile
- Grand Larceny (unrelated to Alexis Murphy case)
"The return of the 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.
Due to a gag order placed on this case, no one is allowed comment about the case.
During a Monday afternoon hearing, previous charges against Taylor were nolle prossed and a trial date of May 1 was set for the murder charges. The trial is expected to last two weeks.
"Each of the two charges are punishable by a maximum of life in prison," CBS 6 legal expert Todd Stone said.
Stone said if Murphy's body is not found, the prosecutor must use circumstantial evidence that she was killed and that Taylor's conduct caused the death.
"It is much more difficult to prove a murder case when there is no body, but it can be done," Stone said. "In cases where a body is found, the medical examiner performs an autopsy and testifies about the cause of death and that is normally very helpful for the prosecutor. In this case, it will need to be proven with other evidence."
Taylor was arrested less than two weeks after Murphy’s Aug. 3 disappearance. The 17-year-old girl, who is still missing, was last seen in surveillance photos at a gas station in Lovingston. Taylor was also seen at that gas station, talking to Murphy.
Taylor is being held without bond at the Charlottesville-Albemarle Regional Jail.