Jesse Matthew pleads not guilty, victim testifies in Fairfax case

Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford requests for a partial denial of the motion for Jesse Matthew to appear unshackled and in his own clothes in public. Photo: Federal Bureau of Investigation. Commonwealth’s Attorney Denise Lunsford requests for a partial denial of the motion for Jesse Matthew to appear unshackled and in his own clothes in public. Photo: Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The man who’s charged with the murder of UVA student Hannah Graham faced jurors in court June 8 in Fairfax and entered a not guilty plea to charges of assaulting a woman in 2005. That woman, then a 26-year-old recent college grad who’d come to Virginia from India to start a new job, testified on Monday, June 8, describing a brutal attack and her assailant saying, “I will kill you if you scream again. Let me do this, and I’ll let you go,” according to the Washington Post.

The woman testified she’d spent a lazy Saturday browsing at a bookstore, and was within steps of her Fairfax City apartment door when her assailant grabbed her, dragged her to nearby woods, punched her in the face and strangled her. She said she fought her assailant and passed in and out of consciousness.

Another witness, Mark Raul Castro, said he drove up to the complex and spotted the woman, naked from the waist down and covered in mud and blood.

It was DNA collected from under her fingernails that eventually linked Matthews to the case. He’s charged with attempted capital murder, sexual object penetration and abduction with intent to defile in the Fairfax case and will later face trial in Albemarle County on a capital murder charge relating to Hannah Graham’s disappearance and death. Although Matthew is also linked by DNA to the Morgan Harrington case, he has not been charged in her abduction and death.

Thanks to the miracle of live tweeting, those outside the Fairfax courtroom on Monday learned that Matthew’s mother, father and girlfriend sat in the front row. Dan and Gil Harrington, the parents of Morgan Harrington, also were in the courtroom.

When asked if he was ready for trial, Matthew said no, according to tweets from reporters inside the courtroom. The judge decided to proceed anyway.

The 12 jurors and two alternates were chosen before lunch on the first day of trial. They will not be sequestered and were told the trial likely will last nine days, through June 19, with no court June 12.