Suspect in UVa Killing Faces Death Penalty

Charges are upgraded against Jesse Matthew
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 5, 2015 6:19 PM CDT
Suspect in UVa Killing Faces Death Penalty
Jesse Matthew Jr. looks toward the gallery while appearing in court in Fairfax, Va., last year.   (AP Photo/The Washington Post, Bill O'Leary, Pool, File)

The man accused of abducting and murdering a University of Virginia sophomore will now face the death penalty. Prosecutors today announced a charge of capital murder against 33-year-old Jesse Matthew in the death of Hannah Graham last year, reports the Daily Progress. Prosecutors initially didn't seek the death penalty, but the state attorney for Albemarle County said today that there is "compelling evidence from the lab that capital charges are now appropriate."

Denise Lunsford didn't offer specifics, but the Washington Post notes that capital charges can be brought when "aggravating factors" such as sexual assault are present. As a result of the capital murder charge, Matthew was appointed new attorneys because his previous defense team did not have experience with death-penalty cases. Matthew also is a suspect in a 2005 sexual assault, and his DNA has been linked to the body of a young woman found outside Charlottesville in 2009. (More Jesse Matthew stories.)

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