Attorney Requests Reopening Alexis Murphy Case
Randy Taylor's attorney Michael Hallahan is now requesting that the commonwealth revisit the Alexis Murphy case.
The request comes after police confirmed earlier this week that Jesse Matthew is linked by forensic evidence to the Morgan Harrington case. Harrington disappeared after seeing a concert at John Paul Jones Arena in 2009. Her remains were found on an Albemarle farm three months later.
Matthew faces an abduction with intent to defile charge in connection with the disappearance of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham. Police say Graham and Matthew were last seen together on Charlottesville's downtown mall on September 13.
In a letter, Hallahan requests that Nelson County Commonwealth's Attorney Anthony Martin conduct additional DNA testing in the Alexis Murphy case and also requests the reexamination of Murphy's social media activity and Matthew's social media activity to determine if they had any contact.
Relatives of Murphy, who was murdered last year, say they are offended by a letter sent to reopen her convicted killer's case. Taylor was convicted of abduction with intent to defile and first-degree murder after Murphy's disappearance, and sentenced to two life terms. But Hallahan says there is a reasonable suspicion that Jesse Matthew may have had a role to play in Murphy's case as well.
Murphy's family says they take issue with several things Hallahan said in his letter to Martin, including the implication that Murphy may still be alive. In Hallahan's letter, he brings up Taylor's attempt at a deal before his sentencing, in which he maintained his innocence but asked for a reduced sentence if he were to "advise on [Murphy's] location." He says his client "made no reference to her being deceased and made no reference to a body.” The family feels this is adding salt to their wound, when they already had accepted Murphy's death.
"It's difficult enough to think about her being gone without having a resting place for her and I just think that was really unprofessional on his part,” said Trina Murphy, Alexis Murphy's aunt.
But the family does feel Hallahan's ultimate request is reasonable.
Hallahan, who says Taylor's appeal process is underway, was asking the commonwealth's attorney to compare DNA evidence gathered from the investigation of Matthew with unidentified evidence in the Murphy case.
"There were multiple DNA samples found in Alexis Murphy's car,” Hallahan said. “Most of them came back unknown."
Hallahan quoted testimony in Murphy's trial saying she liked "older men" and implied that could mean Matthew.
Trina Murphy said, "I think when a teenager of 17 thinks about an older man they're thinking like 21. I don't see any probable cause to think that my niece would be in any way attracted to LJ or associated with him."
At this point, Martin has agreed to search Murphy's social media accounts and to compare DNA samples, but Murphy's family says they hope this is put to rest quickly because there is still a girl missing.
"Right now, the focus really needs to move back to ‘where is Hannah,'” Trina Murphy said.
In his testimony, Taylor said there was a black man with cornrows with him and Murphy on the night of her disappearance. Hallahan says the evidence has to be looked at again to make sure that man wasn't Matthew.
In Martin's response, he says within days of Taylor's arrest, he and Hallahan were “100 percent certain that the black male that Alexis Murphy left with was Dameon Bradley.” Taylor said Bradley was with him and Murphy the last night she was seen, but Bradley testified in court during Taylor's trial that he had never met Murphy.
Read the full letter from Hallahan here. Read Martin's letter here.