Mental health expert to evaluate suspect in student's death

AP News
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Posted: Dec 07, 2015 3:55 PM

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — A mental health expert will evaluate a man charged with killing two college students in Virginia, according to a court order approved Monday.

William Stejskal will be paid $350 per hour to examine Jesse Matthew Jr. before his trial in the 2014 slaying of 18-year-old University of Virginia student Hannah Graham, the court order says.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the Graham case, which is scheduled for a jury trial in July.

Graham's September 2014 disappearance stunned the community and came amid rising national concern about sexual assaults and other serious crimes around universities. A massive search ended when a team from a Richmond-area sheriff's office found her body five weeks later on abandoned property in Albemarle County, about 12 miles from the Charlottesville campus and six miles from a hayfield where Harrington's remains had been found in January 2010.

Matthew is already serving a life prison term for a 2005 attempted murder and sexual assault in northern Virginia.

He has also been charged with first-degree murder in the 2009 death of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington, 20, who vanished while attending a Metallica concert at U.Va. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty in that case.

Matthew appeared in Albemarle County Circuit Court on Monday in a grey striped jumpsuit with his hands and feet shackled. He whispered with his attorneys and looked around the room during the hearing, but did not speak to the judge.

The judge also allowed the defense to withdraw a motion to suppress evidence that it filed this fall. Matthew's attorneys said they aren't prepared to move forward with the motion at this time but intend to refile it in January. The motion remains sealed.

The judge set the next hearing in Graham's case for Jan. 11. Robert Tracci, who defeated incumbent Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford in November, will take over the case when he's sworn in at the beginning of next year.