October 2015 trial date set for men accused of killing Alex Johnson

Alex Johnson
Alex Johnson

Two men accused of killing Alex Johnson of Lexington were given a trial date Friday morning in Fayette Circuit Court.

Robert Markham Taylor and Timothy Curtis Ballard will face jury trial Oct. 5, 2015, on multiple charges stemming from the beating death of Johnson, 30. Taylor, 29, is charged with murder, kidnapping and tampering with physical evidence. Ballard, 43, is charged with kidnapping, tampering with evidence and being a persistent felon.

WKYT-TV reported that the trial is expected to last four to six weeks.

Taylor's attorney asked for at least a year to prepare for the trial, because Taylor could get the death penalty if convicted, the TV station also reported.

Johnson, 32, a chef at the University of Kentucky, went missing Dec. 20, 2013, minutes after hanging up the phone with his girlfriend when he heard a knock at the door. On Jan. 24, Johnson was found in a barrel on the banks of the Kentucky River. He died from blunt-force trauma to the head.

According to an arrest warrant, Ballard told investigators that he helped Taylor lure Johnson to a car where Ballard held Johnson down while Taylor beat Johnson with "an object."

Ballard's tale of what happened was recorded Jan. 20. He was charged a day later.

Taylor was arrested in Pharr, Texas, a city of about 73,000 near the Mexico border. He was found with several pounds of marijuana in his vehicle.

Ballard and Taylor were being held at the Fayette County jail.