RADFORD AND ROANOKE (WSLS 10) – Jesse Matthew’s defense team is preparing for two high-profile cases in 2016 after already receiving three consecutive life sentences for a 2005 Fairfax sexual assault and attempted murder conviction.
Matthew is expected to go on trial for the murders of Hannah Graham and Morgan Harrington next year. Professor of Criminal Justice at Radford University, Dr. Tod Burke said the defense may have a difficult time finding an unbiased jury pool and can see his defense team asking to move the trials to another location. However it may be difficult according to legal expert lawyer Scott Goodman because of the media coverage and accusations of sexual assaults at two Virginia colleges he attended.
The mother of one of Matthew’s alleged victims, Gil Harrington, said she does not want the case of her daughter’s murder to go to trial. She believes a trial would be excessive considering the sentence Matthew already received.
“To spend the next year and a half in trials for Morgan after there’s already a life sentence on board seems excessive,” Harrington explaind. “I’d rather direct that energy to some forward-motions.”
Harrington said she wants closure in the form of a plea deal.
“If his lawyers and his family are ready to stop this tug-of-war, I’m ready to stop this tug-of-war too, because it’s exhausting,” Harrington said. “It’s emotionally and physically draining.”
Dr. Burke said Harrington’s wishes may not be granted. He said the cases will likely end up in trial.
“Sometimes prosecutors will listen to it, but at this point it’s at the state’s hand because it goes beyond the family, and it goes to the whole community as well,” Dr. Burke explained.
Matthew is set to go on trial for the murder of Hannah Graham in July, 2016 and for the murder of Morgan Harrington in October, 2016.