NELSON COUNTY, VA (WTVR) — A jury has found Randy Allen Taylor guilty of first-degree murder and abduction with intent to defile in connection with the disappearance of missing Nelson County teenager Alexis Murphy.
CBS 6 reporter St. George said some jurors cried as the verdict was read around 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon.
After the verdict, the sentencing phase of the trial immediately began. At that point, Taylor voluntarily left the courtroom.
The commonwealths’ attorney, who argued that Taylor should receive life in prison, called Alexis Murphy’s mother to testify.
Laura Murphy took the stand and talked about how difficult this year has been for her family. She cried as she said Alexis should have graduated from Nelson County High School and received her diploma on May 17.
The jury recommended life sentences on both counts. A judge will formally sentence Taylor at a later date.
Taylor faced anywhere from 40 years behind bars to life in prison for the crimes.
After sentencing, the commonwealth’s attorney and Murphy’s family addressed the media outside the courthouse.
“It doesn’t bring us the closure that we need, but it goes a long way in helping us,” Murphy’s family said.
When asked if they believed Taylor would confess to what he did with Alexis’ body, family members said they prayed he would, but seriously doubted it would happen.
The family thanked law enforcement, the commonwealth attorney’s office and the community — their extended family – for offering support after Alexis disappeared.
After just five days, the prosecution and defense rested their cases on Wednesday.
The defense did so after just an hour of testimony and a handful of witnesses, underscoring the point that they believe the prosecution never proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Taylor kidnapped and killed 17-year-old Alexis Murphy.
Murphy vanished from Nelson County in August 2013.
Over the course of the trial the defense noted that Murphy’s body was never found and there is no evidence that she is dead.
The prosecution countered by arguing that a blood stained shirt of Taylor’s had Murphy’s DNA on it, as well as testimony from Taylor that he was with her the day she disappeared.
As for why the defense rested so quickly, legal analyst Todd Stone hinted it could be deliberate.
“There might be indication from defense that they don’t think the prosecution case is very strong,” Stone said.
As for the Murphy family, they described Wednesday as the most challenging day of court yet.
“It is difficult to see the evidence and hear the testimony and listen to people talk about your child being murdered,” Trina Murphy, the aunt of Alexis Murphy, told reporters.
Murphy said she’ll be back at Nelson County’s Courthouse Thursday, at 9:30 a.m., as the jury resumes deliberations.
“It just feels the last 10 months have come to this moment,” Trina Murphy said.
Prosecutors and Defense Attorneys remain under a gag order by the judge.
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