Jesse Matthew pleads guilty to murders of Hannah Graham, Morgan Harrington

Graham disappeared fall 2014; Harrington, fall 2009

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County Senior Budget Analyst Laura Vinzant said available funds for the center came from a one-time trial contingency of $59,975 that was set aside by Albemarle County officials for costs associated with the trial.

Richard Dizon | Cavalier Daily

Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr. pleaded guilty to the murders of then second-year College student Hannah Graham and Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington at the Albemarle Circuit County Court Wednesday. Matthew’s trial for Graham’s murder was originally set for July 5. The trial for Harrington’s murder was set for Oct. 24.

Matthew was sentenced to four consecutive life sentences for the murder and abduction of Graham and the murder and abduction of Harrington. The capital murder charge in Graham’s case was nolle prosequi.

As part of the plea bargain, Matthew waived his right to apply for conditional release, early release and parole, including geriatric release.

At a press conference following the hearing, Matthew’s lead counsel said his client took the deal to avoid the death penalty.

Prior to his plea, Matthew was charged with capital murder and abduction with intent to defile in the murder of Graham, as well as with the charges of first-degree murder and abduction with intent to defile in the murder of Harrington.

Graham — whose disappearance in the fall of 2014 sent shockwaves through the University community — was last seen on the Downtown Mall on Sept. 13 of the same year. Matthew was arrested for her abduction in Galveston, Texas on Sept. 24, 2014. He had fled the state after the Charlottesville Police Department labeled him a person of interest in their investigation.

After Matthew’s arrest, human remains were found on an abandoned property eight miles from the University in October. Charlottesville Police confirmed the remains belonged to Graham on Oct. 24, 2014 — over a month after she disappeared.

Harrington’s disappearance remained unsolved for six years. She disappeared following a concert at John Paul Jones arena in October of 2009. Similar to Graham, her remains were found several months later in rural farmland.

These cases follow a history of criminal activity. In October, Matthew was sentenced to three life sentences by a Fairfax judge in connection to an attempted sexual assault of a Fairfax woman in 2005.

In the Fairfax case, following an Alford Plea — in which a defendant pleads guilty without admitting guilt — Matthew was sentenced without the aid of the jury. The judge instead relied on Matthew’s history and character descriptions, which included a letter from an ex-girlfriend, in sentencing.

At the hearing Wednesday, Matthew apologized for his actions through his lawyer.

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