Matthew Charged with 1st-Degree Murder of Hannah Graham

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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Abduction suspect Jesse Matthew is now charged with first-degree murder for the death of the University of Virginia student Hannah Graham.

Eighteen-year-old Graham was last seen on Charlottesville's Downtown Mall in September 2014. Her remains were found about a month later in southern Albemarle County.

The official announcement of four indictments against Matthew came at a news conference held by Albemarle Co. Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford and Albemarle Co. Police Chief Steve sellers Tuesday morning. According to Lunsford, an Albemarle grand jury indicted Matthew on Monday, February 2, for first-degree murder, abduction with the intent to defile and two reckless driving charges. Those indictments were sealed until Tuesday.

"These indictments signal the beginning of the next phase in what has been an incredibly difficult process for the family of Hannah Graham, for our community, and for the women and men of the departments and agencies who have worked on this matter since September of last year,” Lunsford stated.

Lunsford said she will not seek a capital murder charge, which could have included the death penalty. 

"The decision of how to charge in a specific case is very difficult and often times there are many considerations that go into charging decisions," said Lunsford.

But even without the possibility of a capital murder conviction, Lunsford said the effort during the search and investigation, called Team Hannah, has done its job.

Matthew was served the four indictments Monday at the Fairfax Adult Detention Center where he's being held in connection with a 2005 Fairfax rape case.

"Albemarle County and Charlottesville city police detectives met with Fairfax County authorities to serve a Capias and four indictments on Jesse Matthew,” Sellers stated.

Matthew's defense attorney, Jim Camblos, says they were informed late Monday about the indictments. He issued the following statement: "I received the direct indictments late yesterday afternoon. We have scheduled a first appearance in Albemarle Circuit Court for 11 a.m., on February 18. I have no further comment at this time."

Jesse Matthew's first appearance on the Albemarle charges will be via video on Wednesday, February 18. He faces up to life in prison.

Charlottesville Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapman has filed a motion to nolle prosequi the abduction with intent to defile charge filed against Matthew in Charlottesville. Chapman issued the following statement:

"Having verified that Jesse Leroy Matthew, Jr. has been charged in Albemarle County with the offense of abduction with the intent to defile as a result of events that allegedly occurred on September 13, 2014 in connection with the disappearance and death of Hannah Graham, the prosecution of him in the City of Charlottesville for that offense is duplicative and likely to become barred by the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment. As a result, the commonwealth has filed with the Charlottesville General District Court a request for the entry of an order of nolle prosequi in Mr. Matthew's pending case in the city."

Police have said forensic evidence also links Matthew to the 2009 disappearance and death of 20-year-old Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington. Harrington disappeared in 2009 during a Metallica concert at the John Paul Jones Arena. Her remains were found on a farm in southern Albemarle Co. in January 2010. 

Morgan's parents, Dan and Gil Harrington, were told about the indictments ahead of the news conference Tuesday, but prosecutors say no charges are pending in the Harrington case, adding each investigation takes its own course.

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