Date set for Jesse Matthew’s attempted capital murder trial in Fairfax

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Jesse Matthew at Fairfax court appearance

FAIRFAX, Va. — The court date has been set for the attempted capital murder trial of Jesse Matthew Jr., the Charlottesville man whose initial connection to  the disappearance, and then death, of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham unlocked connections to other unsolved cases.

His trial will begin June 8, 2015. In addition to the attempted capital murder charge, he faces rape and sexual assault charges.

Earlier this year a judge denied a request by a coalition of media organizations to allow cameras inside the courtroom during the upcoming trial.

In the Fairfax case, authorities say that on September 24, 2005, a young woman returning from a grocery store was grabbed from behind by an assailant and sexually assaulted.

“We saw her purse on the front sidewalk,” said neighbor Stacey Simkins. “He had already dragged her behind our units to the dark pool area.”

Simkins did not see the suspect’s face, but she immediately called police.

“The offender was scared away by a passerby,” the FBI said in a statement, “but the victim got a good look at him.”

New FBI sketch of Morgan Harrington suspect

New FBI sketch of Morgan Harrington suspect, based on 2005 identification.

In addition to the victim’s potential testimony, the FBI also says it has DNA evidence in the case.

Matthew was moved to Fairfax only recently, from Charlottesville, where he is indicted on first-degree murder and abduction with intent to defile charges in connection to Graham’s death.

Searchers discovered Graham’s body in Albemarle County on Oct. 18, more than a month after she disappeared from the downtown mall in Charlottesville. She was last seen leaving a bar with Matthew, on Sept. 13.

Matthew was also forensically linked to the murder of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington, who disappeared outside the John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville on Oct. 17, 2009.

The DNA in the Harrington case matches the 2005 case DNA, though no charges have been filed against Matthew. Harrington was found in a location about five miles from where Graham’s remains were found.

Matthew will appear back in court on Feb. 18 in Albemarle, for the Graham case, to establish counsel and other future hearings.

 

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