2 suspects in death of University of Kentucky chef are indicted

jwarren@herald-leader.comFebruary 20, 2014 

A Fayette County grand jury has indicted Robert Markham Taylor and Timothy Curtis Ballard on murder, kidnapping and other charges related to the beating death of Alex Johnson.

The indictment charges Taylor with murder, kidnapping and tampering with evidence. Ballard is charged with kidnapping, tampering with evidence and being a persistent felony offender.

The indictment alleges that Taylor, 29, and Ballard, 42, "unlawfully restrained" Johnson on Dec. 20 with the intent to "inflict bodily injury or to terrorize" Johnson in the course of a conspiracy between the two defendants.

Ballard was arrested Jan. 24 after telling Lexington police that he saw Taylor beat Johnson to death on Dec. 20 after the two had lured Johnson to a car.

Taylor was arrested Jan. 22 in Pharr, Texas, and was returned to Lexington on Feb. 11.

According to the indictment, the persistent-offender charge against Ballard stems from three felony convictions.

Ballard was convicted in federal court in Alabama in 1992 of threatening to kill then-President George H. W. Bush, the indictment said.

According to accounts of that case, Ballard was in the Mobile County, Ala., jail awaiting trial when he wrote a letter threatening to send a pipe bomb to Bush. Ballard repeated the threat to federal agents when they interviewed him.

Ballard also was convicted of robbery and kidnapping in Alabama in 1992, and he was convicted of theft in Kenton County in 1990, the indictment says.

Searchers found Alex Johnson's body in a barrel in the Kentucky River on Jan. 24, three days after police arrested Ballard.

Johnson, 32, died of blunt-force trauma to the head, the Fayette County coroner's office said.

Jim Warren: (859) 231-3255.

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