Steve Helber/ AP
In this Sept. 30, 2015, file photo, Jesse Matthew is escorted from court after a hearing on 2 different murder charges in Charlottesville, Va.
Friday, Oct. 2, 2015|3:12 p.m.
FAIRFAX, Va.– Jesse Matthew Jr., accuseded of the murders of college students Hannah Graham and Morgan Harrington, was sentenced Friday to life in prison for a sexual attack on a female a decade earlier in northern Virginia.
Matthew, 33, of Charlottesville, Virginia, was officially sentenced to three successive life terms in Fairfax, a suburb of the country’s capital, for attempted capital murder, abduction, and sexual attack of a woman in 2005.
DNA evidence gathered from Matthew throughout last year’s examination 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 previous sweetheart, identifying herself just as “Diana,” composed a letter on Matthew’s behalf stating he was raped as a youngster.
But Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Lawyer Ray Morrogh, who argued for the life sentence, was unmoved by the claim that Matthew himself might have been a victim of sexual attack. He told Judge David Schell he was suspicious about the truth of the claim and indifferent to its significance.
“If certainly this guy was ever raped, then of all people it is he who needs to be loath to rape somebody else,” Morrogh said.
He called Matthew a “modern Jekyll and Hyde” who forecasted an image as a gentle giant to friends and family while concealing his life as a violent sexual predator.
“Killing her with his bare hands would have been the supreme rush for him,” Morrogh said, crediting an onlooker for conserving the victim’s life by intervening and prompting Matthew to run away.
Sentencing guidelines broadly called for a term of anywhere from nine to 44 years, attorneys stated. Public defender Robert Frank stated the picture of Matthew– a state champion wrestler who got a football scholarship to Liberty University– as a mild giant is the one that he and the defense group had come to know over the in 2014.
He urged the judge not to consider “what might have occurred in Charlottesville”– a reference to the deaths of Graham and Harrington, which have actually gotten national attention– in sentencing Matthew for the attack.
Schell stated little in handing down the maximum sentence, calling the criminal offense a “vicious and harsh attack.”
Morrogh told press reporters after Friday’s hearing that the life sentence was proper, provided the viciousness of the crime, and said he was particular the sentence showed the judge’s sensations about the Fairfax attack just, and that he did not take pending charges in the Graham and Harrington deaths into account.
Morrogh stated that under Virginia law, Matthew would be eligible for geriatric release at age 60– 27 years from now– no matter the life sentences.
As the sentence was read, Matthew’s mom, Debra Carr, began shrieking “No!” and sobbed. She chose not to move as deputies aimed to take her from the courtroom.
Matthew stated absolutely nothing and left the courtroom silently under companion, his head hanging low. He stated just “No, sir” when asked if he had anything to say prior to the judge imposed sentence.
The female who was attacked now stays in India and was required to go back to Virginia to affirm against him. She testified her enemy got her just steps from her townhouse and carried her into a dark area, where he ripped off her clothing and molested her. She battled and scratched him, yielding the important DNA evidence, till her assailant ran off when the onlooker approached.
After district attorneys provided their case at trial earlier this year, Matthew cut proceedings to a halt by entering an Alford plea, a type of a guilty plea in which he does not admit misdeed but acknowledges that district attorneys have enough evidence for a conviction.
Morrogh said Matthew’s unwillingness to allow responsibility, incorporated with his willingness to create his victim experience again the ordeal by affirming in a public trial, is emblematic of his selfishness.
“He looks for grace but is himself ruthless. He seeks empathy, but he is ruthless,” Morrogh said.
Hannah Graham’s moms and dads, and Morgan Harrington’s mother, Gil Harrington, participated in Friday’s sentencing. Both Hannah Graham and Morgan Harrington were university student who were discovered dead in the Charlottesville location after having actually gone missing.
Last year’s disappearance of Graham, a University of Virginia student, triggered a national search for Matthew after cops publicly identified him as the person last seen with Graham. Matthew was ultimately apprehended in Texas and charged with Graham’s murder. Morgan Harrington’s death had actually gone unsolved considering that 2009, when the Virginia Tech student vanished after going to a Metallica show in Charlottesville.
Matthew deals with a possible death sentence in the Graham case scheduled for trial next year. Morrogh stated he hopes the Fairfax conviction will help prosecutors there– they will certainly have the ability to indicate the conviction in arguing for a death sentence.
Gil Harrington said after Friday’s hearing she was pleased with the sentence handed down but took no happiness from it.
“There are no winners here today. There’s loss all around,” she stated.