Co-defendants arraigned in missing man Alex Johnson's slaying

jwarren@herald-leader.comFebruary 27, 2014 

Two men indicted in the beating death of Alex Johnson were arraigned Thursday in Fayette Circuit Court.

Defense attorneys waived formal arraignments for Robert Markham Taylor and Timothy Ballard, and entered not guilty pleas for both.

The co-defendants are to be back in circuit court March 20 for pre-trial hearings.

Taylor, 29, is charged with murder, kidnapping and tampering with physical evidence. Ballard, 42, is charged with kidnapping, tampering with physical evidence, and being a persistent felon.

According to documents previously filed in district court, Ballard told Lexington police that he saw Taylor beat Alex Johnson to death on Dec. 20, the day Johnson disappeared.

Taylor and Ballard are charged in the case under the same indictment. However, they appeared in court separately on Thursday via video from the Fayette County jail.

Johnson, 32, was a chef at the University of Kentucky's Hilary J. Boone Center. Johnson's girlfriend, Lisa Horobin, said she last talked with him by telephone on Dec. 20.

According to court filings, Horobin told police that Johnson ended the phone conversation by saying, "Mark is here. I'll call you later." Horobin also told police that she heard and recognized Taylor's voice in the background, according to court filings.

Police later alleged in court documents that Taylor and Ballard lured Johnson into a vehicle, and the victim was then beaten to death.

Johnson's body was found Jan. 24 inside a barrel in four feet of water in the Kentucky River.

Police have yet to make public any motive in the case.

Jim Warren (859) 231-3255. Twitter: @hlpublicsafety

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