Man accused of killing UVA student could now face death penalty

Reuters News
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Posted: May 05, 2015 8:32 PM

RICHMOND, VA. (Reuters) - A former hospital worker already charged with abducting and killing an 18-year-old University of Virginia student was hit with additional charges on Tuesday that make him eligible for the death penalty.

Albemarle County prosecutors said a capital murder charge was filed against 33-year-old Jesse Matthew based on additional forensic evidence recovered in the murder of Heather Graham, who disappeared from the campus in Charlottesville last September.

Matthew was ordered back to court on June 25, when a judge was expected to set a trial date. Prosecutors previously said the trial could last up to three weeks and that they planned to call some 50 witnesses.

Authorities say footage from surveillance video cameras shows Graham and Matthew together on Sept. 13, shortly before she disappeared. They believe Matthew was the last person to have seen Graham alive.

    Her body was found in October on an abandoned property outside Charlottesville, following an extensive search by police and volunteers.

Matthew, a Charlottesville resident who once played college football, also faces attempted capital murder and abduction charges for a 2005 attack on a 26-year-old woman.

He has also been linked via forensic evidence to the death of Virginia Tech University student Morgan Harrington, who disappeared after leaving a Charlottesville concert in October 2009, Virginia State Police have said.

Harrington's body was discovered in 2010. Matthew has not yet been charged in that case.

(Reporting by Gary Robertson in Richmond, Va.; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Peter Cooney)