Jesse Matthew enters Alford plea in Fairfax

A dozen new motions were filed in the Jesse Matthew case. Photos: Fairfax Police, Marion Mercer A dozen new motions were filed in the Jesse Matthew case. Photos: Fairfax Police, Marion Mercer

On the third day of his Fairfax trial, where Jesse Matthew is on trial for a 2005 attempted murder, sexual assault and abduction, he entered an Alford plea.

Matthew also faces charges in Albemarle for the murder of UVA student Hannah Graham last fall.

The plea came after the prosecution called witnesses who testified that Matthew’s DNA matched that found under the fingernail of the victim and rested its case Wednesday morning.

An Alford plea allows Matthews to admit there’s enough evidence to convict him without confessing to the crimes. It also allows a judge to determine his sentence rather than a jury.

“He won’t admit his guilt, but it’s the equivalent to a guilty plea,” says legal expert David Heilberg. “The risk of life is much higher with a jury.”

He adds, ”His lawyers probably persuaded him in faint hope of less than life.”

Matthews will be sentenced October 2.

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