Fayette County

Death penalty ruled out in UK chef kidnapping

Home of Alex Johnson, 188 N. Hanover, Apt 4., who went missing on Dec. 20, 2013. Photo by Pablo Alcala | Staff
Home of Alex Johnson, 188 N. Hanover, Apt 4., who went missing on Dec. 20, 2013. Photo by Pablo Alcala | Staff Herald-Leader

Two men charged in the kidnapping and slaying of a University of Kentucky chef are not eligible for the death penalty after a judge’s ruling Friday, according to the prosecution.

Attorneys for Robert Marcum Taylor and Timothy Ballard successfully sought the exclusion of the death penalty, Fayette First Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Lou Anna Red Corn said Friday. The two are accused of killing Alex Johnson, 32, who was a chef at the University of Kentucky’s Hilary J. Boone Center.

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.

Police alleged in court documents that Taylor and Ballard lured Johnson into a vehicle. Johnson was beaten to death.

Johnson’s body was found in January 2014 inside a barrel in the Kentucky River.

Taylor and Ballard will appear in court again April 8. A trial date was set for June.

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