Quantcast

Matthew Set to Enter Plea Deal to Graham and Harrington Murders

Posted: Updated:
File Image: Jesse Matthew being escorted from Albemarle Circuit Court File Image: Jesse Matthew being escorted from Albemarle Circuit Court
Hannah Graham photo courtesy of John and Sue Graham Hannah Graham photo courtesy of John and Sue Graham
Morgan Harrington Morgan Harrington
Letter of Matthew's intent to enter a plea. Letter of Matthew's intent to enter a plea.
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -

The man accused of murdering two college students is now expected to enter guilty pleas in connections to those cases.

Jesse Matthew is scheduled to appear in Albemarle Circuit Court Wednesday, March 2, to resolve the Hannah Graham and Morgan Harrington cases. He is charged with capital murder in the Graham case, and the prosecution has been seeking the death penalty if he is convicted of that charge.

Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney Robert Tracci released a statement Monday afternoon saying, in part, it is anticipated that Matthew will be entering pleas of guilty: 

On March 2, 2016 at 1:30 p.m., there will be a hearing in the Albemarle County Circuit Court during which it is anticipated that Jesse Leroy Matthew, Jr., will be entering pleas of guilty to resolve both the Hannah Graham and Morgan Harrington abduction and murder cases.

In the interest of protecting the integrity of the judicial process, our office is unable to provide any additional details as to the specific details of the pleas, or any other information related to the case, at this time.

The prosecutor did say that plea talks have been underway for several weeks.

Matthew is accused of abducting and murdering 18-year-old Graham, a University of Virginia student, back in September of 2014. Her remains were found in a wooded area behind a house on Old Lynchburg Road on October 18, 2014.

Matthew is also accused of killing 20-year-old Harrington, who disappeared after attending a concert in Charlottesville on October 17, 2009. The Virginia Tech student's remains were found in January 2010 on an Albemarle County farm. Matthew has been facing a charge of first-degree murder in this case.

"There are no winners here. You know, our daughters are still dead. But then I corrected myself that actually the winner is the community, and maybe that's what the abstract of justice means," said Gil Harrington, Morgan's mother.

While the prosecution and the defense have agreed to the terms of the plea deal, it will be up to Judge Cheryl Higgins to review on Wednesday and sign off on it.

"From the defense side, ‘yes, it's keep me alive.’ From the prosecution side it's, ‘let get closure, let's finish this up.’ There's no appeal from a guilty plea," explained legal analyst Lloyd Snook.

NBC29 has learned that family members of the victims will be given the chance to testify with victim impact statements during Wednesday's hearing.

"It's their opportunity to look Jesse Matthew in the eye and say, 'this is what you did to me and our family.'  It's the only time they'll ever have to do that," Snook said.

In June, Matthew was convicted of sexually assaulting and attempting to kill a woman in Fairfax County. The judge handed down three life sentences to Matthew in that case.

Statement from former Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford:
"I am grateful to the dedicated law enforcement professionals at the Albemarle County and Charlottesville Police Departments and the Virginia State Police whose hard work and perseverance helped build a strong case that would have inevitably prevailed in a jury trial.

"While I was not involved in the negotiations, I am hopeful that any agreement with Mr. Matthew involved an agreement to undergo a psychiatric analysis and provide a full disclosure of exactly what happened in these to matters so that we are able to learn more about predatory behavior and how to better protect our community in the future.

"I will be forever touched by the stories of Hannah and Morgan and moved by the strength of their parents. I hope that they are satisfied with the plea agreement and area able to find peace in their lives beyond these heinous acts of violence."

  • Matthew Set to Enter Plea Deal to Graham and Harrington MurdersMore>>