Dec. 11, 2013
A Nelson County judge issued a partial gag order Wednesday morning in the case involving the abduction of Alexis Murphy. Randy Allen Taylor is charged with her abduction and is scheduled for a jury trial beginning in February.
Commonwealth's Attorney Anthony Martin said he filed the motion for a gag order to ensure a fair trial in Nelson Co. Martin is concerned with the widespread news and social media coverage of Alexis' disappearance, and speculation drawn from other missing persons cases.
"We want the case to be decided in the courtroom," said Martin.
Judge J. Michael Gamble ruled in favor of a partial gag order. The ruling does not direct media coverage, but aims to protect the rights of the accused.
"Free speech and freedom of the press does not trump a fair trial," Judge Gamble said.
The judge ruled that no law enforcement officers or employees, lawyers, Commonwealth's attorney, or their employees may speak to the media regarding several issues:
- Randy Allen Taylor's criminal record, reputation, or any statements made by him.
- The identity of the witnesses, forensics, or evidence recovered.
- The possibility of a plea.
- Presumption of Taylor's guilt or innocence.
The ruling does not include witnesses or Alexis Murphy's family members, but Martin said he was going to advise his witnesses not to speak with the media.
Martin said this was the first time he filed for a gag order. He stressed how unique Alexis Murphy's case is in that is it only case in the surrounding area involving a missing person where a defendant is charged and is awaiting trial.
Taylor was in court Wednesday morning, but did not speak.
Alexis Murphy was last seen in Lovingston on August 3rd.