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Randy Taylor Abduction and Murder Trial Day 1 - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Randy Taylor Abduction and Murder Trial Day 1

Posted: Updated: May 15, 2014 10:52 AM
Randy Allen Taylor Randy Allen Taylor
Alexis Murphy Alexis Murphy
Alexis Murphy Alexis Murphy
The murder trial for Randy Taylor, the man accused of abducting and killing Nelson County teenager Alexis Murphy, began Thursday with jury selection. Murphy has not been seen since August 2013.

In Nelson County Circuit Court Thursday, potential jurors were asked about everything from media exposure to their involvement with law enforcement. Some jurors were struck because of medical and travel reasons. Two were struck after admitting they thought Taylor was guilty. A number of other jurors were also excused because they had seen media reports about Taylor's connection to another missing girl in Orange County, Samantha Clark. Judge Michael Gamble does not want the Clarke case to overshadow any decision the jury makes concerning Taylor.

Jury selection took nearly eight hours. Charlottesville criminal defense attorney Bonnie Lepold says the size of Nelson County and media attention surrounding the case were important factors in Thursday’s jury selection. She says, even though every case is different, she feels the pace of jury selection in this one is on target.

“It's so dependent on those circumstances as to how long, but if you compare it to other jurisdictions like California, New Jersey and New York, Virginia moves very fast in terms of not only jury selection but the actual trial process itself,” said Lepold.

Thursday in court, Taylor appeared clean-shaven in a shirt and tie. He pleaded not guilty to three felony charges he was facing, including first-degree murder. The defense plans to call a total of 24 witnesses in this case.

Murphy's family was also in the courtroom Thursday. They didn't take their eyes off Taylor during his plea. Gil Harrington, whose daughter Morgan was murdered in 2009, was also in court to offer support. Murphy's family and Harrington were all wearing pink scarves, as Alexis Murphy's favorite color was pink.

"Gil is just an amazing woman, if people haven't figured that out in the three or four years she's been in the media. She just really is a huge support system to her family," said Trina Murphy, Alexis' aunt.

Trina Murphy says she's pleased with the 12 jurors chosen.

"I think it's a good group of people. Definitely all walks of life represented on that jury so I'm happy with it," she said.

Seven women and five men will decide Taylor's fate. As for the outcome of the case, Trina Murphy says she hopes to see justice.

Alexis Murphy left her home in Shipman Saturday, August 3, reportedly heading toward Lynchburg. Surveillance video shows her at the Liberty gas station in Lovingston around 7:15 that night. That was the last time she was seen.

Authorities arrested Taylor, 48, on Sunday, August 11, and charged him with felony abduction in relation to the case. He was charged with first-degree murder in relation to the case on January 6.

A gag order has been put on the case so it unclear what evidence investigators have against Taylor.

The trial will pick up again Friday morning with opening statements from the prosecution and the defense.

We will bring you the very latest from the courtroom as it becomes available. For more information on the case, click here. For updates, follow NBC29 on Twitter @NBC29.
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