FAIRFAX, Va. (WVIR) -
The man charged with the murder of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham will again have to face a Fairfax judge, just days before he is set to go on trial there. The legal wrangling stems from media coverage of the three cases Jesse Matthew is tied to, and its effect on the victim in this 10-year-old Fairfax case.
Matthew faces rape and attempted capital murder charges in Fairfax. The big issue at Friday's hearing was whether the victim can fairly identify Matthew in front of a jury.
In 2005, the victim in the Fairfax case told police she was raped while coming home from a grocery store. She gave police what court documents call a "very generalized description" of her attacker, saying he was a "stocky black male," who was "around 30 years old.
"What the defense is worried about is whether the rape victim can come in and make a sufficiently positive identification so that that identification should be admitted in court," said legal analyst Lloyd Snook.
Fast forward to 2015, with Jesse Matthew set to go on trial in this case, he is a easily recognizable person. Matthew's face has been plastered all over the news in recent months since he's also linked by DNA to the deaths of Hannah Graham and Morgan Harrington.
His attorneys don't want the victim using that information to try and sway the jury from the witness stand when she's asked to identify her attacker.
“If it's entirely the product of police prompting, it's not admissible. And so they want the hearing ahead of time to explore that at least enough to figure out whether they're going to be able to keep that identification out," Snook explained.
That hearing will happen on Thursday June 4, when the victim will be in the courtroom to make an ID of her attacker before a judge. The judge will then decide whether to let her make that identification in front of the jury at trial, which is set to start just four days later on June 8.
Sign Up for Email Alerts
Sign up to receive news, weather, and breaking news emails from the NBC29 newsroom in your inbox daily.