Taylor testifies he witnessed Ballard beat Alex Johnson to death

LEXINGTON, Ky.(WTVQ) – Robert ‘Mark’ Taylor took the stand for the first time Tuesday morning in his own defense.

Taylor is on trial and accused of murdering Alex Johnson in December 2013.  On Monday, a medical examiner testified that Johnson died of blunt force trauma to the head. His body was later discovered in the Kentucky river in January 2014.

Taylor, 30, testified that Johnson was in an altercation with co-defendant, Tim Ballard when he was beaten to death. He also told the court that he tried to save his friend’s life.

Tuesday, jurors heard from several of Taylor’s friends and family who testified on his behalf.

Taylor talked about his difficult childhood being raised in Florida and Kentucky by a single mother and having a father who suffered with alcoholism.

Taylor also explained that he only got into the marijuana-selling business after his mother became sick with cancer and died. He says he was left with a mortgage, medical bills and his mother’s jewelry business to care for. After dropping out of school and working several jobs to stay afloat, Taylor says he still struggled for income.

It was a cousin that introduced Taylor to Alex Johnson in 2011, according to Taylor.  Johnson become a friend and his supplier for marijuana.

On December 20, 2013, Taylor says he and Johnson had plans to go out to a bar.  That evening Taylor says Timothy Ballard drove to Johnson’s home and they all planned to ride to the venue together.

During his testimony, Taylor described an off-color exchange between Johnson and Ballard as Johnson got into the vehicle. From there, Taylor recalled Ballard began to repeatedly beat Johnson with a steel baton and Johnson began screaming for him to stop.

“Tim got out of the car and continued to hit Alex until he didn’t scream anymore”, said Taylor.

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