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Judge issues gag order in abduction case

lady-justice-55959081LOVINGSTON  (AP) — A Nelson County judge on Wednesday prohibited law enforcement officers and lawyers from speaking about an abduction case involving a missing teenager.

The order issued by Circuit Judge J. Michael Gamble forbids the release of the existence or contents of any confession or statement by the defendant, Randy Taylor; the results of any scientific or forensic test unless the test is filed unsealed in the court file; property or items seized from Taylor’s property and other information, media outlets reported.

Gamble’s order also applies to employees of lawyers involved in the case.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Anthony Martin said he requested the order in an attempt to ensure an impartial jury for Taylor’s trial, which is scheduled to begin Feb. 3. Martin cited media coverage of case.

Taylor is charged with abduction in connection with the disappearance of 17-year-old Alexis Murphy of Shipman.

Murphy was last seen Aug. 3 by her family. Her car was found in the parking lot of a multiplex in Charlottesville three days later.

“I’ve discussed this with the (Murphy) family,” Martin said in court. “They understand. Like me, they want this case heard by an impartial jury in Nelson County.”

He said this is the first time he has sought a gag order in more than a decade of practicing law, and that he had no choice because of heightened media coverage of the case.

All prosecution witnesses are being urged to not discuss the case, said Martin, who plans to call about 50 witnesses during the trial.

Taylor has maintained his innocence.

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