Prosecutors said Tuesday they will seek the death penalty against Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr., the college operating room technician charged with kidnapping and killing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham last September.
An Albemarle County, Virginia, judge set a hearing for June 25 for Matthew, 33, the last person seen with Graham, 18, who disappeared after a night out with friends last September.
Before she vanished, she texted a friend at 1 a.m. that she was lost. Her remains were found Oct. 18, less than 10 miles from where she’d last been seen alive.
“The commonwealth received some additional information in late February that led to this increased charge,” Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney Denise Lunsford told reporters after the hearing. “If I didn’t believe that this case were worthy of a capital charge, I wouldn’t believe that Mr. Matthew were someone that would be appropriate for this ultimate penalty.”
Separately, Matthew has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and two other felony charges in a 2005 sexual assault case in Fairfax County, Virginia. He was scheduled to stand trial June 8 in that case, and there was no immediate information on how the two trials would be coordinated.
And he’s also suspected in the death of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington in 2009, investigators have said. Charges have yet to be brought in that case.
The judge appointed a new legal team for Matthew because his current lawyer isn’t qualified to handle capital cases in Virginia.