Randy Allen Taylor Pleads Not Guilty in Murder of Missing Teen Alexis Murphy

A man charged with murdering a missing Nelson County, Va., teenager has pleaded not guilty.

Randy Allen Taylor's trial started Thursday in Nelson County Circuit Court and is expected to last about two weeks. According to media reports, jury selection began after the 48-year-old Taylor pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and abduction with intent to defile.

Prosecutor Anthony Martin told potential jurors that 17-year-old Alexis Murphy's body hasn't been found.

Murphy's family last saw her Aug. 3, 2013. She was spotted on surveillance video on that date at a Liberty gas station in Lovingston; the video shows that Taylor was there at the same time.

Taylor's attorney, Mike Hallahan, told NBC29 in Charlottesville last year that his client was not the last person to see Murphy that day. He said while he and Murphy were parked at the gas pumps that day, she approached him and "made a comment to him about smoking marijuana based on her seeing him at another car wash in Lovingston weeks or a month before that."

Hallahan told NBC29 the teen then told Taylor she "knew a guy" and told him to follow her in his car to arrange a drug deal with a third individual.

The lawyer said Taylor, Murphy and another man went back to Taylor's camper in Lovingston. The two men smoked and drank, while Murphy did neither, the lawyer said.

Hallahan said Murphy and the other man left at the same time in separate cars, and that was the last Taylor saw of them. The lawyer told NBC29 law enforcement found a hair belonging to Murphy in Taylor's car. Authorities found Murphy's car several days after her disappearance in the parking lot of a movie theater near Charlottesville, more than 35 miles northeast of Lovingston.

Taylor initially was charged with abduction by force, a felony. He was charged with her murder in January.

Taylor's attorney sought a change of venue because of heavy news coverage of the case in Nelson County. Circuit Judge J. Michael Gamble denied the motion in February.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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