Jesse Matthew pleads guilty in Fairfax sexual assault case

Matthew enters Alford plea, does not directly admit to crime

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Jesse Matthew will appear in court again June 25 at a hearing to set trial dates. 

Jesse Matthew entered an Alford plea Wednesday in a 2005 Fairfax sexual assault case, pleading guilty to charges of attempted capital murder, abduction with intent to defile and sexual assault.

Matthew was first identified as a suspect in the Fairfax case through DNA evidence found in the disappearance and subsequent murder of late second-year College student Hannah Graham. Matthew has been charged with capital murder and abduction with intent to defile in Graham’s case.

Despite initially pleading guilty to all three charges during the trial’s start on Monday, Matthew entered an Alford plea at the Fairfax County courthouse, acknowledging that prosecutors have enough evidence to convict without having to directly admit to the crime. With the Alford plea, Matthew gave up his right to a trial by jury and to defend himself in court.

Judge David Schell accepted the plea on all three charges and set an Oct. 2 sentencing date. At this time, if convicted on all three charges, Matthew could face life in prison.

Matthew is scheduled to appear in court June 25, following a hearing May 5 when charges in Commonwealth of Virginia v. Jesse Matthew were upgraded to capital murder and new counsel was appointed to the defense. At the hearing, the Albemarle County Circuit Court will hear any further motions.

DNA evidence also links Matthew to the disappearance and death of Morgan Harrington, a Virginia Tech student who disappeared Oct. 17, 2009 after leaving a concert at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville. Harrington’s body was found on an Albemarle County farm Jan. 26, 2010. Matthew has not been charged yet in that case.

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