Friday, July 25 2014 10:37 AM EDT2014-07-25 14:37:34 GMT
Saturday August 03: Alexis Murphy left her home in Shipman, Virginia on Saturday evening, reportedly headed for Lynchburg. She tweeted "Burg Bound" to her twitter followers at 3:04 p.m. Saturday. According toFull Story
A timeline of events in the search for Alexis Murphy.Full Story
Day four of Randy Taylor's trial was held in Nelson County Circuit Court Tuesday. Taylor is accused of abducting and killing 17-year-old Alexis Murphy.
Murphy was last seen on August 3. She left her home in Shipman, reportedly heading toward Lynchburg. Surveillance video shows her at the Liberty gas station in Lovingston around 7:15 that night. 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 on January 6.
Tuesday morning, a motion regarding evidence was heard. The judge is allowing pornographic images found in Taylor’s camper to be admitted. The prosecution argues that this shows intent to defile.
The first witness called was a tool marks and firearms specialist with the FBI, who testified on the torn fingernail that was found in Taylor's camper. The specialist testified that a tool - like nail clippers - was not used to remove the nail.
Investigator Billy Mays was called next and an interview recording of a conversation he had with Taylor on August 7 was played. The focus was on the timeline of Taylor's day on August 3. He repeatedly denied stopping at the Liberty gas station. He did admit going to Orange, purchasing marijuana and driving SUVs with a friend, driving around Charlottesville for a while, and then returning to Nelson. He did not provide a name or phone number for the friend he had been with on August 3.
In the recording Taylor admits to being at the Applebee's on Route 29 on Sunday night, which is around the time police have surveillance footage of Murphy’s car being parked at the Carmike Theater. Taylor says that the friend he saw on Saturday dropped him off at Applebee’s and he took a cab back to Nelson. When asked about ever being at the Carmike Theater, Taylor said that his buddies had talked about going to a movie the day before.
In the tape investigator Billy Mays tells Taylor "You can almost see how things are closing in around you." Mays tells Taylor that this is not going to go away. At one point during the interview, Taylor says "if y'all want to arrest me, go ahead, that's fine."
Alexis Murphy's cellphone was the next piece of evidence brought by the prosecution. Dustin Simmerly, an electronics engineer for the FBI, analyzed the white iPhone found in a wooded area between Taylor's camper and Route 29. The iPhone was determined to be Murphy's.
Simmerly said the back of the phone was completely removed, the battery was ripped out along with the battery cord, and the phone's processor was cracked. The processor, located inside the phone, is what holds the phone’s data. Because it was cracked, no information was able to be recovered.
The last piece of evidence shown before the court recessed for lunch was a scrapbook found at an abandoned house on the same property as Taylor's camper. The scrapbook shows headshots of a young, white female. In some of the photos, her head is cut out and taped to pictures of women wearing lingerie. The young woman's name was not given but the witness, Jon Cromer with Virginia State Police, said police have spoken with her parents, who live in Ruckersville.
The defense noted that the young woman pictured was white, that the scrapbook was found in the abandoned house and not in the camper, and that Taylor's son spent a lot of time in the house.
In the afternoon testimony centered on a new taped interview with Taylor and investigators on August 11. In it, he admits for the first time that he was with Alexis Murphy the day she was last seen.
In the interview investigator Billy Mays and FBI agent John Pittman pushed Taylor for answers about the missing teenager. They told him they know a lot more than he may think. They also offered up different scenarios, saying they know something bad happened but maybe it was an accident, a mistake and that he got scared.
Investigator Mays is heard telling Taylor "this thing is coming down like a freight train. The only thing slowing it down is John and myself." Taylor then tells them "I didn't hurt the girl. I didn't hurt the girl at all." But it wasn’t until they told Taylor about the DNA evidence that he admitted to being with Murphy.
On the audio tape he tells investigators that Murphy was helping him get some weed and that they met up with a third person. He described him as a black man with cornrows. He says all three went back to his camper; he and the other man drank and smoked. According to Taylor, Murphy and the third person left about an hour later in separate cars.
Dameon Bradley, the man Taylor says was with him and Murphy the last night she was seen, testified next in court. Bradley, who used to work at the McDonald's in the Liberty gas station, said he was friends with Murphy on Facebook, but has never been in the same room - let alone the same car - as her.
When asked about moving to Alabama shortly after Murphy was last seen, Bradley explained he had a planned vacation to Atlanta with friends in August and that he moved in with his father in Birmingham, Alabama after the trip. He explained his dad was not going to make him pay rent - he had been paying to live with his mother in Virginia.
Bradley said he was interviewed by the FBI in Birmingham and that he supplied DNA evidence to clear him as a suspect. Bradley explained that the night Murphy went missing, he and his girlfriend were staying at a hotel in Madison Heights.
When the defense asked about a Chevy Caprice in his Facebook photos, Bradley looked directly at the defense saying that there are not pictures of a Caprice on his Facebook. He also repeatedly stated that he does not drive or have a car.
After court adjourned Tuesday, Murphy's aunt Trina Murphy said of Bradley, “I hope he can go on with his life and people can stop talking about him and do what he wants to do because clearly he was the elephant in the room and he’s not there anymore."
The final witness Tuesday was agent Wendell Cosenza, a cellphone analyst for the FBI. Cosenza presented evidence of the cellphone records he analyzed. The records place both Murphy's and Taylor's cellphones in the vicinity of both the Liberty gas station and Taylor's property the night of August 3.
The last data collected by Verizon from Taylor's phone that night was at 6:27 p.m. The phone did not make contact with a Verizon tower again until 9 a.m. on August 4. The last data collected by Verizon for Murphy's phone was two incoming text messages at 7:17 pm on August 3. The analyst did not say who those text messages were from.
The prosecution said they plan on calling at least one, and possibly another, witness Thursday morning. The defense will then begin to call witnesses.
NBC29 will resume coverage of the trial Wednesday morning at 9:30 a.m. in Nelson.
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