Judge Denies Jesse Matthew Defense Team Motion
Jesse Matthew is in court for a motions hearing. He is charged with capital murder in the death of Hannah Graham, and 1st degree murder in the death of Morgan Harrington.
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - The legal team for the man accused of killing a University of Virginia student is recovering after a loss in court Monday night.
Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr. appeared in Albemarle Circuit Court around 9:30 a.m. Monday.
Matthew is charged with capital murder in the September 2014 disappearance and death of 18-year-old University of Virginia student Hannah Graham, whose remains were found about five weeks after she disappeared. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
During the hearing, prosecutors revealed they believe Graham got into a car and rode down east Market Street into the Woolen Mills neighborhood.
A bloodhound reportedly tracked Graham’s scent from Preston Avenue to the Downtown Mall. Investigators say they were also able to track her scent another 1.5 miles along East Market Street.
Prosecutors say the bloodhound tracked Graham's scent to a construction mulch pile in the Woolen Mills area. It is there that they believe she died. Lawyers say the bloodhound also picked up a scent common with fear or adrenaline.
Investigators also say the bloodhound picked up Graham's scent on the right passenger door of Matthew's car, as well as a dumpster and at the entrances to his apartment and building at Hessian Hills.
Matthew's defense team challenged the affidavit used in search warrants used to seize their client’s car and his Hessian Hills apartment. They’re claiming investigators misled the magistrate to get those warrants in this investigation. Their argument stems from a written report by Detective Buck Gardner, a deputy with the Louisa County Sheriff's Office, and a statement he later gave to the defense about his use of the bloodhound in the search for Graham.
The capital defender claims the route police also say the bloodhound took is different than what witnesses and surveillance video actually shows.
The judge disagreed with the defense, saying not every single fact in an affidavit must be precisely correct. She said slight inconsistencies are understandable, especially considering the time pressure to try to find Hannah Graham alive.
She also pointed out that the affidavit never says the K9 identically tracked Graham's path, it says the dog successfully tracked her path.
The probable cause developed with the bloodhound is what allowed police to seize Matthew's car and subsequently investigate his apartment.
Legal analyst Lloyd Snook explains, "If the defense can prove that there is a lie in the search warrant supposedly the search warrant would be thrown out.”
Other evidence presented to the court Monday outlined a reason for probable cause. A transaction on Matthew’s card placed him at Tempo at 1:10 a.m. on the night of Graham’s disappearance. A witness also says she saw someone fitting Matthew’s description with Graham that night and remarked to her friend that she didn’t think Graham and Matthew knew each other.
The judge stated that the fact that Matthew didn't contact law enforcement when Graham's disappearance made national news helped contribute to other reasons for probable cause.
The court also set the date for Matthew’s next preliminary hearing. Matthew will appear back in court on January 21 at 9 a.m. for a preliminary hearing.
Matthew also faces first-degree murder charges in the 2009 death of 20-year-old Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington.
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.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.