UVa Murder Suspect Gets 3 Life Terms for Sex Assault

Jesse Matthew is also charged in 2 Charlottesville murders
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 2, 2015 5:02 PM CDT
UVa Murder Suspect Gets 3 Life Terms for Sex Assault
In this Sept. 30, 2015 filephoto, Jesse Matthew is escorted out of court after a hearing on two different murder charges in Charlottesville, Va.   (Steve Helber)

Jesse Matthew Jr., charged with the murders of college students Hannah Graham and Morgan Harrington, was sentenced Friday to life in prison for a sexual assault on a woman a decade ago in northern Virginia. Matthew, 33, of Charlottesville, Virginia, was officially sentenced to three consecutive life terms in Fairfax, a suburb of the nation's capital, for attempted capital murder, abduction, and sexual assault of a woman in 2005. DNA evidence collected from Matthew during last year's investigation of Graham's disappearance linked him to the Fairfax case. Matthew's family had asked the judge for leniency in letters to the court, and a former girlfriend, identifying herself only as "Diana," wrote a letter on Matthew's behalf saying he was raped as a child.

But Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Morrogh, who argued for the life sentence, was unmoved by the claim that Matthew himself may have been a victim of sexual assault. He told Judge David Schell he was suspicious about the truth of the claim and indifferent to its significance. "If indeed this man was ever raped, then of all people it is he who should be loath to rape someone else," Morrogh said. Sentencing guidelines broadly called for a term of anywhere from nine to 44 years, lawyers said. Matthew's public defender urged the judge not to consider "what might have happened in Charlottesville"—a reference to the deaths of Graham and Harrington, which have received national attention—in sentencing Matthew for the assault. Schell said little in handing down the maximum sentence, calling the crime a "vicious and brutal attack." Hannah Graham's parents and Morgan Harrington's mother attended Friday's sentencing. (More Jesse Matthew stories.)

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