Jesse Matthew to enter guilty plea in Hannah Graham, Morgan Harrington cases

Jesse Matthew to enter guilty plea in Hannah Graham, Morgan Harrington cases

ALBEMARLE, VA (WWBT) - Jesse Matthew is expected to enter guilty pleas in the abduction and murders of Hannah Graham and Morgan Harrington, according to the Albemarle Office of the Commonwealth's Attorney.

Matthew is set to enter the plea on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. in Albemarle county Circuit Court. Matthew was charged more than a year ago with the abduction and murder of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham. The trial is set for July and prosecutors have said they intended to seek the death penalty.

Hannah Graham went missing in the early morning hours of September 13, 2014. She was last seen with Matthew on surveillance footage. He was charged with abduction with intent to defile in the Graham case a few weeks later. Police eventually found him on a beach in Galveston, Texas, where he was arrested and extradited back to Virginia.

Forensic evidence later linked Matthew to the disappearance of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington in 2009 and an unsolved 2005 rape case out of Fairfax.

Harrington was missing for more than 100 days following a Oct. 17, 2009 Metallica concert at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville. Her mother says Morgan was raped and beaten. Her remains were discovered on a farm in Albemarle County in Jan. 2010.

"We are very relieved and pleased with this outcome," said Morgan's mother, Gil, upon learning of the plea agreement.

Matthew entered an Alford Plea in the Fairfax case on the third day of the trial in June. An Alford Plea is not an admission of guilt, but in entering the plea Matthew admits there was enough evidence for him to be found guilty at trial. Matthew entered the plea after a DNA expert testified his DNA matched DNA found on the fingernail of the victim. The expert told the court the chance the DNA collected is not Matthew's is one in 7.2 billion.

He was sentenced in October to serve three life sentences on the attempted capital murder and sexual assault charges in the Fairfax case. Matthew's family asked the judge for leniency, and a former girlfriend wrote a letter on Matthew's behalf saying he was raped as a child.

His trial in the Hannah Graham case is set for July. He faces a possible death sentence there.

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