Judge denies gag order in Jesse Matthew rape case - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Judge denies gag order in Jesse Matthew rape case

FAIRFAX, VA (WWBT) - The man accused of abducting UVA student Hannah Graham will remain in a Fairfax jail - where he's suspected in the rape of another woman. That was a judge's decision Friday after Jesse Matthew appeared in court for the second time in as many days. The judge also decided it is permissible for attorneys on both sides to speak with the media as the rape case heads to trial.

Prosecutor Raymond Morrogh wasted no time addressing reporters just minutes after a judge decided it's ok for him to do so. Friday, Jesse Matthew's defense asked for a gag order - claiming pre-trial publicity could taint the jury pool for the trial in March.

"I think it's important for the public to have information about how the process works,” Morrogh said.

Matthew's defense also asked the court for $2,000 to better examine DNA in the case, since the alleged Fairfax rape initially involved 8 other possible suspects, the defense says that led to some 17 different analysis reports. So they say they'll now need an independent expert to review those reports, suggesting the state lab that performed the analysis could be biased in favor of the prosecution. The judge granted the funds.

"It's important that people accused of crimes have adequate tools to defend themselves and the judge found that was a necessary tool…The state lab is something to be proud of in Virginia. They're neutral. They work with both sides. They eliminate suspects and they make matches with suspects. We have a great state lab,” Morrogh added.

Friday, Matthew's father sat in the courtroom but had no comment for reporters. The judge is giving both sides two weeks to present what evidence they have in this case. Matthew will remain housed at the jail in Fairfax. Thursday, the judge ordered no cameras will be allowed in the courtroom for the proceedings, citing protections for sexual assault victims.

The judge ordered all the documents in the case to stay under sealed until after the conclusion of the trial, which is set to begin on March 9. 

Click here for full #HannahGraham coverage: nbc12.com/hannah

Matthew pleaded not guilty to attempted capital murder, abduction, and sexual assault charges in November.

The alleged victim is keeping up with the developments from her home in India and is expected to return and testify at trial. Court records show DNA from the victim's fingernails provided a link to Matthew. The odds are 1 in more than 7.2 billion that the DNA might not belong to Matthew. DNA also linked Matthew to the 2009 death of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington.

Matthew's next hearing in Charlottesville in connection with the death of Hannah Graham is scheduled for March 26.Copyright 2015 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.
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