May 7, 2014
The prosecution in the Randy Taylor murder trial is set to hand over the case to the defense on Wednesday, but a legal analyst says with the evidence presented so far a jury may have a hard time convicting Taylor.
Legal analyst Scott Goodman says while the prosecution has laid down a strong case based on circumstantial evidence, it may not be enough to convince a jury with 100 percent certainty that Taylor killed 17-year-old Alexis Murphy.
"The jury is going to be instructed by the judge that even if they find that it's probable that Mr. Taylor committed the killing, that's not enough. They have to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt. All 12 of the jurors," Goodman said.
Randy Allen Taylor on trial in Nelson County. He's charged with the murder and abduction with intent to defile of Alexis Murphy. The Nelson County teen was last seen at a gas station in Lovingston on August 3.
Commonwealth's Attorney Anthony Martin played several audio tapes of Taylor speaking with investigators. In the tapes Taylor is asked about his whereabouts on the day Murphy went missing. At first Taylor denies ever even seeing Murphy. After investigators tell Taylor they have surveillance video of Murphy and he interacting at the gas station, Taylor admits while he may have seen her, he doesn't remember talking to her.
Goodman says although the prosecution has proved Taylor has lied and that he Murphy were together, it's up to the jury to decide if he actually killed the teenager.
"They have to prove not just that he is a liar. They have to prove not just that he had the opportunity to do it, that maybe Ms. Murphy was in that trailer, and there was some violence surrounding the death of Ms. Murphy; they have to prove that he actually did it, not just that he was there," Goodman said.
On Wednesday the prosecution is expected to rest its case, and then the defense will present its witnesses and evidence. Goodman says one key piece of evidence that is missing is a body. While DNA matching Alexis's was found on blood, hair, and a nail in Taylor's camper, her body was never recovered. Goodman says that is something the defense team will focus on.
"I'm sure one of the things that the defense will argue to the jury is 'how badly are you going to feel if three months from now, after if you've convicted Mr. Taylor, if Ms. Murphy's body is found and there's evidence there linking her to somebody else,'" said Goodman.