In Virginia, Randy Allen Taylor sat quietly in the Nelson County courtroom as the verdict was read — guilty of first-degree murder in the commission of an abduction and abduction with intent to defile in connection with the disappearance of 17-year-old Alexis Murphy.
The Shipman teen disappeared on Aug. 3. Her body has not been found.
In the sentencing portion of the hearing, Murphy’s mother, Laura Murphy, cried as she described what the last nine months has been like without her daughter, and a frustrated Taylor whispered to his attorney that he no longer wanted to be in the courtroom.
Before Circuit Court Judge J. Michael Gamble could respond to the request, Taylor darted from his seat and walked quickly toward the exit door without a glance at Murphy’s family.
Nelson County Sheriff David Brooks stood in his path and grabbed his arm to escort Taylor from the courtroom. He did not reappear for the remainder of Thursday’s proceedings, which lasted roughly half an hour.
His sudden, unexpected exit and the Murphy family’s appreciative reaction for the guilty verdict capped an emotional six days in the murder case that has captivated central Virginia.
Murphy, a 17-year-old preparing for her senior year at Nelson County High School, vanished Aug. 3. Her last-known location was the Liberty gas station in Lovingston where a clerk saw her talking with Taylor.
The only traces of the missing teen — a strand of hair, a diamond stud, a human nail, a bloodstained T-shirt of Taylor’s, and hair and eyelash extensions — were found in Taylor’s small camper about a mile north of the gas station on U.S. 29.
Her smashed cellphone, which family members said she never parted with, was found within 100 feet of the camper. The phone’s last-known activity was traced to the immediate vicinity of the camper shortly after 7 p.m. Aug. 3.
Taylor, 48, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, first-degree murder in commission of an abduction and abduction with intent to defile. After six hours of deliberations Thursday, the 12-member jury reached verdicts of guilty for first-degree murder in commission of an abduction and guilty of abduction with intent to defile.
Nelson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Anthony Martin explained the jury chose the charge of first-degree murder in the commission of abduction out of two potential charges. Taylor could not be convicted twice on a first-degree murder charge, he explained, adding those “merged” into a single charge.
The maximum punishment Taylor faces is life in prison on each charge and a combined minimum of 40 years in prison. After deliberating for 20 minutes, the jury returned to recommend Taylor serve two life sentences. He was not present when the recommendations were read in court.
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