USA TODAY US Edition
Suspect to enter pleas in 2 murder cases
A man accused of kidnapping and killing two Virginia college students in two separate incidents is expected to enter a plea agreement in both cases, a county commonwealth’s attorney said Monday.
Jesse Matthew, accused of killing Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington in 2009 and University of Virginia student Hannah Graham in 2014, will appear Wednesday in Albemarle County Circuit Court here, Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert Tracci said.
Matthew now is serving a prison term of three consecutive life sentences for sexually assaulting a woman in Fairfax County in 2005.
In Graham’s death, Matthew was charged with capital murder, making him eligible for the death penalty. Without a plea agreement, he could have faced the death penalty had he been convicted in a trial.
Tracci wouldn’t comment on what charges Matthew is expected to plead to. WTVRTV, in Richmond, reported the deal would spare his life.
Matthew’s lawyer, public capital defender Douglas Ramseur, declined to comment.
Graham’s September 2014 disappearance came amid rising national concern about sexual assaults and other crimes on campuses.
A massive search ended when a team found her body five weeks later on abandoned property in Albemarle County, about 12 miles from the Charlottesville campus and 6 miles from a hayfield where Harrington’s remains had been found in January 2010.
Harrington vanished while attending a Metallica concert at the University of Virginia in 2009.
Authorities have not said exactly how either student died.
Graham disappeared after a night out with friends here. In surveillance video, she can be seen walking unsteadily and running at times before crossing a seven-block strip of bars, restaurants and shops.
Another video captured her leaving a restaurant with Matthew, who had his arm around her. He was the last person seen with Graham, according to authorities.
Matthew was a taxi driver before working for the University of Virginia hospital.