CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WJZ)–Her mysterious disappearance baffled police for weeks. Tonight, the man held as a suspect in the killing of UVA student Hannah Graham is formally charged with her murder.
Derek Valcourt has the details.
32-year-old Jesse Matthew Jr. faces the possibility of 20 years to life in prison if he’s convicted in the death of 18-year-old UVA student Hannah Graham.
Prosecutors made the announcement Tuesday pointing out they did not charge him with capital murder which carries a possible death sentence.
“I’m not going to discuss the specific facts and circumstances that led to this consideration for ethical reasons, however understand that a great deal of serious thought went into this determination,” said Denise Lunsford, Albemarle County Prosecutor.
The frantic search for Hannah Graham captured the nation’s attention when she first disappeared last September.
It was just before dawn on September 13 when Graham was last spotted by surveillance cameras near the UVA campus.
Attention quickly focused on 32-year-old Jesse Matthew Jr, also seen with Hannah in the surveillance video.
In October Hannah Graham’s body was found on an abandoned property near Charlottesville only 8 miles from where she was last seen.
Police tracked down Jesse Matthew and arrested him in Galveston, Texas, 1,300 miles away from Charlottesville.
DNA evidence has also connected Jesse Matthew to the 2009 disappearance of 20-year-old student Morgan Harrington. Her body was discovered just five miles from where Graham’s remains were found. Matthew once lived with his mother nearby.
Matthew’s first hearing in the Hannah Graham case is set for next Wednesday.
In the meantime he’s being held at a jail in Fairfax County, Virginia while he awaits separate trial there on attempted murder, rape and sexual assault charges from a separate 2005 case.
Jesse Matthews has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges against him.