Crime

Jesse Matthew Likely To Plead Guilty In Murder Cases

| by Jordan Smith
Jesse MatthewJesse Matthew

Jesse Matthew is expected to plead guilty to the murders of two college students when he appears in court March 2.

The 33-year-old, who is already serving three life sentences after being convicted of attempted murder in a 2005 assault, is accused of murdering 18-year-old Hannah Graham and 20-year-old Morgan Harrington.

Matthew is charged with capital murder in the 2014 death of Graham, who disappeared on a night out with friends. The sophomore was seen on a surveillance video walking with a man who had his arm around her. Prosecutors claim the man was Matthew.

A major search for Graham was launched after she vanished, and her body was found five weeks later.

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If Matthew pleads guilty, he would avoid the possibility of receiving the death penalty, Daily Mail reported.

A grand jury indicted Matthew last year in the death of Harrington, a Virginia Tech student who disappeared after attending a concert in October 2009.

Harrington’s T-shirt was found close by in a tree, but it took another three months until her body was found in a hayfield.

DNA was used to tie Matthew to the three cases. When police detained him in their investigation into Graham’s death, they linked his DNA to the 2005 sexual assault of a 26-year-old woman. That case, in turn, was connected to Harrington’s 2009 disappearance and murder.

Matthew was convicted in October 2015 of attempted capital murder, abduction and sexual assault for the 2005 incident, when he grabbed the victim close to her house before dragging her into a darkened area. There, he ripped off her clothes and molested her, before running away when a passerby approached.

Matthew did not plead guilty in the case, but entered a plea deal which meant acknowledging that the prosecution had enough evidence to convict him. A DNA specialist said there was a less than 1 in 7.2 million chance that the DNA found on the victim did not belong to Matthew.

His relatives have asked for leniency. A former girlfriend wrote a letter in which she alleged Matthew was raped as a child. The judge gave the maximum sentences for the crimes.

Harrington’s relatives attended Matthew’s sentencing hearing in the 2005 case in October 2015.

“Every vortex of pain and suffering reverts back to Jesse Matthew," Gil Harrington, Morgan’s mother, told CNN in October. "He has caused this and the repercussions of this. They will go through generations of his family just as they will go through our family.”

Sources: Daily Mail, CNN / Photo credit: WTVR

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