Judge Approves Gag Order for Randy Taylor Trial
Wednesday morning, a judge approved a gag order for the upcoming trial of Randy Taylor. Taylor is charged in connection with the abduction of Nelson County teenager Alexis Murphy.
Alexis 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. For more, click here.
The two-page gag order prohibits law enforcement involved in the prosecution or investigation and their respective employees, lawyers and their employees, and the commonwealth's attorney and employees of that office, from making any statements through public communication - including the news media - concerning the following:
- Randy Allen Taylor’s prior criminal record
- Character or reputation
- The existence of any confession or statement given by the accused
- Any potential evidence discovered during any investigation
- The results of any scientific or forensics test
- Property or items seized under a sealed search warrant
- The possibility of a plea agreement
- Any opinion as to the guilt or innocence of the accused
Commonwealth's Attorney Anthony Martin says, technically witnesses are not included, but he is advising his witnesses not to talk.
Martin says the overall media coverage has been responsible in its reporting, but in court he provided examples of reports he thought were reaching. Martin noted that he is concerned about other missing person reports being linked to Alexis and the possibility that could lead to unwarranted speculation.
Alexis’ great-aunt Trina Murphy says the family knows about several details, but has intentionally kept them out of the public.
"There's lots of information that we've held back and will continue to hold back. I have never spoken to the specifics of the case and I won't start that now," said Murphy. "I didn't need a gag order to do that. We're not going to do anything to jeopardize this proceeding his trial or getting justice for my niece."
In court, it was clear that the priority for everyone involved is to make sure the case stays in Nelson County. The Murphy family says they will do what they have to do to make that happen.
Martin says in his 12 years of practicing he has never filed this motion.
Judge Michael Gamble approved the order referencing precedent established by the Supreme Court noting that “Freedom of Press does not have priority over the defendant’s right to a fair trial.”