Randy Taylor will serve two life sentences for the murder of Alexis Murphy.
A Nelson County jury convicted Taylor of first-degree murder and abduction in May. The jury recommended two life sentences. He received that sentence Wednesday afternoon, even though Murphy's body was never found.
Taylor asked for a 20-year sentence in exchange for telling authorities where Murphy's body was. Murphy's family did not want that deal. While the family wants closure and wants the chance to lay their daughter to rest, they felt it would be a bad idea to give Taylor a 20-year sentence in exchange for Murphy's body because they feel he is dangerous to society.
Taylor made a statement in court and maintained his innocence, saying multiple times that he did not kill Alexis Murphy.
Taylor was escorted into the courtroom wearing a striped jumpsuit and handcuffs.
Taylor's defense attorney, Michael Hallahan, started the sentencing out by asking the judge to throw out the guilty verdicts of first-degree murder and abduction.
Hallahan went on to say Murphy’s body was found. He also said there was no evidence of an abduction, especially because video surveillance shows Murphy following Taylor on Route 29 in Lovingston.
Commonwealth's Attorney Anthony Martin responded by saying the state does not need to produce a body. He also said there was a lot of evidence presented in this case -- including blood stains, hair, a fingernail and a shattered cell phone – that all belonged to the teen.
Judge Michael Gamble heard both sides before overruling the defense's motions. Gamble reference the Stephen Epperly case from the 1980's. The Radford murder case was the first "no-body" conviction in Virginia.
Gamble went on to agree with the Commonwealth's Attorney and said there was "sufficient evidence" to convict Taylor on a first-degree murder charge.
The state called one witness to the stand in Wednesday's sentencing hearing. It was Taylor's parole officer. She testified that Taylor repeatedly lied to her about his criminal background. Taylor reportedly denied having a juvenile background. He also lied about prior convictions and places which he lived in the country.
The Commonwealth's Attorney then read a witness impact statement from the Murphy family. It describes how hard these past few months have been for the family.
"Every single thing of my life has changed," said Martin, who read the statement on behalf of Murphy's mother, Laura.
The statement went on to say that Laura Murphy hasn't been able to sleep or work since Alexis went missing. She said holidays haven't been the same, and that all she does is "cry, pray and get up and do it again."
Taylor plans to appeal his convictions. Hallahan said he would be "happy" to handle the appeal.
Taylor stood up and spoke for less than 10 minutes about his innocence. He addressed the courtroom and the Murphy family and said he "did not kill Alexis Murphy."
Taylor feels the state had more resources than his defense attorney and that detectives lied to him to get answers.
Gamble said he was giving Taylor two consecutive life sentences because of "the nature of the crimes, the difference in age between Alexis and Randy, and his criminal background."
If Taylor is released, he will serve an extra three years of supervised probation for each of the charges.
At a news conference just minutes after the verdict, Murphy's aunt and great-aunt said that the sentence is justice for Alexis and that Taylor will never do this to another young lady.
Randy Taylor's family did not want to go on camera but their expressions were stoic as the sentencing was handed down.