Jesse Matthew Defense Presents Motion for Separate Judge
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - The man accused of killing a University of Virginia student is trying to move his trial out of Albemarle County.
Jesse Matthew, 33, was at Albemarle County Circuit Court late Wednesday afternoon for a motions hearing. Two issues were discussed in court: a change of venue, and funding for defense experts.
Matthew is facing a capital murder charge for allegedly killing 18-year-old Hannah Graham, meaning he could get the death penalty if he is convicted on that charge. Matthew is accused of abducting Graham from Charlottesville's Downtown Mall in September 2014 and killing her.
Judge Cheryl Higgins ordered that a change of venue request be heard on March 2, 2016.
Lawyers for Matthew asked for a separate judge to review funding requests for defense experts, which would then be reviewed in private by a judge without the prosecution knowing what the experts presented.
Matthew has court-appointed attorneys because he can't afford them. As a result, any funding request for experts or other items needed for his defense has to be approved by a judge.
The defense wanted two experts but couldn't disclose names or fields of expertise saying the confidential information could reveal a defense strategy.
Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford opposed this motion by the defense, saying there has to be middle ground.
"There are some experts services as I mentioned; a victim outreach expert, or an expert with respect to polling that might reach out to people in the community to see what sort of permeation media exposure for example. But the commonwealth would feel the need to know about, because of potential contact to the commonwealth by people being contacted by the defense expert," she said.
Judge Higgins denied the defense’s motion for the secretive review.