The Latest: Spokesman for killer's family speaks

AP News
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Posted: Mar 02, 2016 4:13 PM

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Latest on a Virginia man accused of killing two college students (all times local):

3:50 p.m.

A spokesman for the family of a man who killed two Virginia college students has apologized to the victims' families.

The Rev. Louie Carr said Wednesday that "words cannot express our sadness about what happened" when Jesse LeRoy Matthew Jr. killed Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington in 2009 and University of Virginia student Hannah Graham in 2014.

Carr spoke after Matthew pleaded guilty to abducting and killing the students and was sentenced to four life terms.

Carr said "it's hard to understand how a gentle soul" could commit such crimes. Carr said the Matthew family prayed the victims' families could someday forgive.

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3:05 p.m.

Family members of two slain Virginia college students spoke at a plea hearing for the man who admitted to killing the young women.

The mother of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham says her daughter was a heroine and that her death helped law enforcement arrest a "serial rapist."

After Graham's death, Jesse Matthew Jr. was charged with abduction with intent to defile, a felony that empowered police to swab his cheek for a DNA sample. Authorities have said that sample connected Matthew to a sexual assault and the disappearance of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington.

Matthew pleaded guilty Wednesday in an agreement that called for him to spend the rest of his life in prison. He looked at the family members as they spoke, but he showed no emotion.

Harrington's father, Daniel, said the family has felt the pain of her loss "every second of every day" and "struggled to cope in a world that's gone gray."

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2:20 p.m.

A Virginia man has avoided a possible death sentence by pleading guilty to first-degree murder and abduction with intent to defile for the slayings of two college students.

Jesse LeRoy Matthew Jr. entered the pleas Wednesday in Albemarle County Circuit Court and received four consecutive life terms.

Matthew already was serving three life terms for a 2005 sexual assault in northern Virginia.

The former hospital orderly pleaded guilty in the September 2014 killing of 18-year-old University of Virginia student Hannah Graham and the 2009 slaying of 20-year-old Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington, who vanished after a Metallica concert at the University of Virginia.

Through his attorney, Matthew said he was sorry and loves his family very much.

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3:45 a.m.

A man charged in the slayings of two Virginia college students is expected to avoid a possible death sentence in a plea agreement with prosecutors.

Jesse LeRoy Matthew Jr. is scheduled to appear in Albemarle County Circuit Court on Wednesday. Commonwealth's Attorney Robert Tracci (TRAY'-cee) says he expects the former hospital orderly to enter pleas that will end the Hannah Graham and Morgan Harrington murder cases.

Matthew is already serving life in prison for a 2005 sexual assault in northern Virginia.

He's charged with capital murder in the September 2014 death of 18-year-old University of Virginia student Graham. He also faces a first-degree murder charge in the 2009 death of 20-year-old Virginia Tech student Harrington, who vanished while attending a Metallica concert at U.Va.