By John Clarke
FAIRFAX Va. (Reuters) - The man charged with abducting a University of Virginia student who later turned up dead pleaded not guilty on Friday in a separate rape case.
Jesse Matthew, 32, of Charlottesville, Virginia, faces three felony charges in a 2005 case in which police say he sexually assaulted a 26-year-old woman walking home from a grocery store in the Washington suburb of Fairfax, Virginia.
At Friday's hearing, Fairfax County Circuit Court Chief Judge Dennis Smith said the trial would start March 9.
Matthew, who entered the packed courtroom wearing a dark green prison jumpsuit and handcuffs, faces charges of attempted capital murder during abduction, abduction with intent to defile, and sexual penetration with an object.
He is also charged in the disappearance of University of Virginia sophomore Hannah Graham, 18, who was last seen with Matthew on Sept. 13.
Searchers discovered Graham's remains on Oct. 18 outside Charlottesville. The case drew national attention and shook the college town about 100 miles southwest of Washington.
Matthew was arrested in Texas on Sept. 24, a day after he was charged with abduction with intent to defile in the Graham case.
Virginia State Police have also said forensic evidence links Matthew to Morgan Harrington, a Virginia Tech student who disappeared after leaving a Charlottesville concert in October 2009. Her body was discovered in 2010, but no charges have been filed in the case.
He was also the main suspect in a 2002 campus rape investigation while attending Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, although no charges were filed.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson)