Media, Public Barred from Taylor Bond Hearing
A Nelson County judge has ruled to bar media and the public from Randy Taylor's bond hearing Thursday. Taylor is currently the top suspect in Alexis Murphy's disappearance.
Alexis, 17, 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 Randy Taylor on Sunday, August 11, and charged him with felony abduction in relation to the case. For more, click here.
Taylor has been held without bond at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail since his arrest. Taylor's attorney says he hopes to learn the commonwealth's reason for jailing his client in court Thursday.
It's now clear the public may not have access to that information. Commonwealth's Attorney Anthony Martin motioned to close the hearing. Defense attorney Michael Hallahan objected to the motion – but Judge A. Ellen White signed the order to bar the public from the hearing citing a Virginia code dealing with hearings in juvenile and domestic relations courts. The code also allows the judge to close hearings for "good cause shown".
The court says there is good cause to prevent public access because the investigation is ongoing and the court sealed the initial law enforcement warrants. The decision doesn't sit so well with attorney and NBC29 legal analyst Lloyd Snook.
"For good cause shown is supposed to mean there is some particular reason in this particular case not just, 'Hey, we don't want the press, we don't like the press." There is a particular reason in a particular case why the press should not be allowed," said Snook.
Snook says in almost every case there are public hearings with ongoing investigations - but also says there are some valid reasons why the prosecution can seek a closed court.
"The reason that makes the most sense for the prosecution to argue is that they believe they will disclose some facts that would get in the way of the investigation and that would have to be within the context of explaining to the court why it is their case is so strong or perhaps it being exposed to why it is so weak," said Snook.
No one knows whether the court will continue to bar the public from this case. That's why several news organizations are considering a challenge to the court's ruling.
Alexis' family says they have no comment on the court's ruling. They also haven't said whether they will attempt to or have been permitted to attend the hearing.
Taylor's bond hearing is scheduled for Thursday at 1 p.m. in Nelson County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.