Death penalty sought for man accused of abduction and killing of student Hannah Graham
Published 06/05/2015 | 08:48
Prosecutors in Virginia are to seek the death penalty for the man accused of abducting and killing British-born student Hannah Graham.
Jesse Matthew has been charged with capital murder following new forensic evidence, Albemarle County commonwealth's attorney Denise Lunsford said. She would not elaborate on the new evidence.
Matthew, 33, a former hospital worker and taxi driver, was already charged with first-degree murder and abduction with intent to defile.
Shackled and handcuffed, Matthew showed no emotion at a hearing in Charlottesville. He had been served with the new indictment earlier in the day, Ms Lunsford said.
She said that while the new forensic evidence was crucial, many factors went into pursuing a death penalty case.
"I would consider the nature of the offence, the history of the defendant, the exact nature of what happened," she said.
Read more: Remains 'belong to missing student'
University of Virginia student Miss Graham, 18, of Alexandria, who moved to the US when she was about six, disappeared in September after a night out with friends in Charlottesville, where her school is located. Her remains were found weeks later in an area about 12 miles from the campus.
She died from "homicidal violence" but the exact cause is unknown, authorities have said.
Miss Graham met friends at a restaurant for dinner before stopping at two off-campus parties. She left the second party alone and eventually texted a friend saying she was lost, according to authorities.
In a surveillance video she can be seen walking unsteadily and even running at times, past a pub and a service station and then on to a seven-block strip of bars, restaurants and shops.
Matthew was the last man seen with her.
Circuit judge Cheryl Higgins appointed regional capital defender Doug Ramseur and Charlottesville lawyer Michael Hemenway to replace those who represented Matthew on the first-degree murder charge. A June 25 hearing has been scheduled to set the trial date.
Mr Ramseur declined to comment.
Police have said forensic evidence connects Matthew to another killing in the college town.
The remains of 20-year-old Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington were found in 2010 in a field outside of Charlottesville. She had disappeared after attending a rock concert the previous year. Matthew has not been charged over her death.
Matthew also faces trial on June 8 accused of attempted murder and sexual assault in an unrelated case in Fairfax County.