May 6, 2016
UPDATE 6:37 PM
Jurors in the Randy Allen Taylor murder trial heard about cell phone records that prosecutors say are able to place Alexis Murphy at or near Taylor's property on the night she vanished.
Alexis Murphy was very active on social media, and her mother testified earlier in the trial that Alexis seemed to always be text-messaging on her cell phone.
Investigators testified Tuesday that Murphy's cell phone was found smashed to pieces on Taylor's property. The phone's processor was destroyed, so agents were unable to retrieve any cellular data like voicemails, text messages or phone records. Murphy's family believes the phone is the missing link in Alexis' disappearance.
"The cell phone tower pinged the exact same place that they found the phone which is at his residence and that's the last time it pinged," says Trina Murphy, Alexis' aunt. "It clearly speaks to the fact that she never left she would not of left without the phone."
Testimony from investigators indicated that Alexis' cell phone was so thoroughly destroyed that they could not get any information from it: No phone calls, voice mails, nor text messages. The FBI was able to use cell phone towers to ping the area where the phone was.
Randy Allen Taylor told investigators that another man was in his home, along with Alexis Murphy, on the day she disappeared, but court testimony rejected that claim on Tuesday.
Taylor says he and the other man smoked marijuana and drank beer, though Alexis did not, but nothing else happened in Taylor's trailer.
That other man, identified in court Tuesday as Dameon Bradley, testifies that he has never met Taylor. Bradley told the court he knew of Alexis Murphy, but that they were "never in the same room together."
"The black man comes off the table now, because clearly he wasn't there and wasn't involved," said Tina Murphy, Alexis' aunt, about Bradley's testimony. "I mean really, there no need in mixing it. That is what it is. He is not involved, and I don't think the defense did anything to prove that he was involved."
Bradley matched Taylor's description as a light-skinned, African-American man with cornrows. Bradley testified he just recently cut his hair.
He said on the weekend that Murphy disappeared, he and his girlfriend were staying at a hotel in Madison Heights. The two were looking for jobs as they stayed in the hotel, preparing to move to a new place.
On Aug. 5, Bradley said he left for a planned trip to Atlanta with a friend. From Atlanta, he traveled to Montgomery, Ala., to live with his father for a few months. The defense implied Bradley left town shortly after Murphy disappeared, but returned after Taylor was arrested. Bradley denied that claim.
The defense also questioned Bradley about a maroon Chevrolet Caprice, a car that Taylor described as on his property on Aug. 3. Defense attorney Mike Hallahan specifically asked about a photograph posted to Bradley's Facebook showing a car with that description, but Bradley denied the picture existed, saying he doesn't know anyone with access to that make and model.
Bradley said he gave the FBI a sample of his DNA to clear his name.
The prosecution played another audio recording of law enforcement talking with Randy Allen Taylor. In it, Taylor admitted to talking with Alexis Murphy after denying so in previous interviews with police.
The admission came after investigators presented Taylor with DNA evidence that showed Alexis Murphy was inside his camper. Taylor says he was arranging to get marijuana for Murphy from another man.
He stated in the recording that another man joined them in Taylor's trailer to smoke marijuana, but that Murphy didn’t have any.
Taylor told investigators that he left the trailer to buy beer, and that he and the other man drank it when he returned.
He said Murphy and the other man left Taylor's home around 8:30 p.m.
“I didn’t hurt the girl," Taylor said on the tape after admitting he talked to Murphy. "I didn't hurt the girl at all."
Investigators say there is no DNA evidence of a third person in Taylor's trailer.
The Nelson County Courthouse heard another recording from a police interview with Randy Allen Taylor, four days after 17-year-old Alexis Murphy disappeared.
Tuesday morning, the prosecution played an Aug. 7 recording where Taylor repeatedly told investigators that he didn't remember what he did the night Murphy went missing.
At several points Taylor told investigators: "If you want to arrest me, go ahead." Investigators replied that they were not at his trailer to arrest him, but they were simply trying to fill in the gaps surrounding Murphy's disappearance.
"You know this is not going to end well," investigator Billy Mays said in the recording. "You can almost see how things are imploding around you."
Also in court on Tuesday, Judge Michael Gamble ruled that pornographic images found inside Taylor's trailer would be admissible as evidence because they could prove the defendant's potential motive and intent to defile. On Monday, Judge Gamble originally agreed with the defense attorney that the images were not admissible because the participants were physically dissimilar from Alexis Murphy and the images were legally purchased. Tuesday, he reversed his decision to allow the pictures.
An FBI analyst testified Alexis Murphy's cell phone was so damaged that he could not retrieve data from it. Investigators had discovered Murphy's phone on Taylor's property.
On Monday, the court heard two police interviews with Taylor: The first was from August 5th, when Nelson Co. investigator Billy Mays and an FBI agent went to Taylor's trailer home and recorded their conversation with him. Taylor told them that he didn’t remember stopping at the Liberty gas station, where Murphy was last seen. The second audio interview, from Aug. 7, the investigators return to Taylor’s home and tell him they have surveillance video of him talking with Murphy on the day she went missing. Taylor says he recalls "sitting at the pump for a while" and believes he went inside to buy cigarettes, but doesn't remember talking to Murphy.
When investigators ask Taylor if Murphy had been in his camper or truck, he's "positive" that she has never been in either, saying he would "definitely" remember.