UPDATE: Jesse Matthew Charged with Capital Murder
The new charge means Matthew could face the death penalty if he is convicted of the abduction and murder of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham. It also means Matthew will need some new attorneys to represent him.
Albemarle Co. Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford announced on Tuesday, May 5, that additional information came forward in late February which was compelling enough to tack on the capital murder during an abduction charge. However, Lunsford would not elaborate on exactly what the evidence is.
Matthew now faces the capital murder charge in addition to the first-degree murder charge, though he cannot be convicted of both charges if this case goes to trial. Matthew will also receive a new legal defense since his current counsel isn't prepared for a capital murder case. The court appointed Doug Ramseur and Michael Hemingway as new counsel.
Lunsford says the commonwealth will seek the death penalty if the Hannah Graham murder case goes to trial. The commonwealth's attorney also told the court that she has more than 50 witnesses at this point for this case.
Matthew is scheduled to go before a judge again at 2 p.m. on June 25. There is a chance the defense will ask Judge Cheryl Higgins to recuse herself from the case during that next court date. Higgins' daughter attended UVA at the same time Hannah Graham did, thought it should be noted that there is no evidence that suggests Graham and Higgins' daughter had any contact or knew each other.
They also plan to set a trial date.
Despite the need for a new trial date in Albemarle County, Jesse Matthew is still expected to stand trial next month in Fairfax County for an attempted murder and rape from 2005. That trial is scheduled to start June 8.
DNA evidence has linked Matthew to the Fairfax case.
Investigators say Matthew also has links to the abduction and murder of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington, but he is not facing any charges in that case at this point.
Gil Harrington, Morgan's mother, was at the courthouse on Tuesday. “I'll be satisfied if this particular predator never is able to hurt anyone again. That was always my intent, to save the next girl. Unfortunately we couldn't save Hannah Graham,” she said.
Hannah Graham's parents were also present at Tuesday's hearing.
Matthew is accused of abducting Graham from Charlottesville's Downtown Mall in September 2014 and killing her. Her body was found a few weeks later in a wooded area off of Old Lynchburg Road in southern Albemarle County.