Amidst screams from his sobbing mother who says she hopes the judge “rot[s] in hell,” Jesse Matthew was given three life sentences today for sexually assaulting a 26-year-old Fairfax woman while attempting to rape and kill her in September 2005. C-VILLE did not attend the sentencing, but followed live tweets by news organizations and reporters in attendance.
Matthew was convicted of this crime in June after DNA collected from the 2014 murder of UVA student Hannah Graham matched the DNA investigators found under the Fairfax victim’s fingernails. Matthew is charged with the capital murder of Graham.
In this case heard at the Fairfax County Circuit Court by Judge David Schnell, Matthew was charged with attempted capital murder, abduction with intent to defile and sexual penetration with an object.
During the June trial, the victim testified against her attacker in a chilling account that gained much media attention, saying she was just steps away from her front door when he picked her up and dragged her to a grassy patch nearby. She said she fought back as he beat her and sexually assaulted her, many media outlets reported. According to the Washington Post: “He said, ‘I will kill you if you scream again’…He said, ‘Let me do this, and I’ll let you go,” she said.
On the third day of the Fairfax trial, Matthew entered an Alford plea, not confessing to the crime but admitting the jury had enough evidence to convict him.
In a letter to the judge made public on September 29, an alleged former girlfriend of Matthew who used the name “Diana” said Matthew was sexually abused by at least three different people in his childhood. During the hearing, prosecutor Ray Morrogh said the letter from Diana was hard to verify and deemed it irrelevant to the case.
Morrogh called Matthew a modern day Jekyll and Hyde, as reported by WTOP’s Neal Augenstein, and the prosecutor used words like “ruthless,” “remorseless,” “merciless,” “pitiless,” and “heartless,” to describe him, other news organizations and reporters tweeted conglomerately.
Matthew declined to give a statement.
Defense attorney Robert Frank described Matthew as a “kind, considerate, shy, socially awkward, gentle giant,” and asked the judge not to consider his charges in Charlottesville.
Earlier this week, a trial for the 2009 murder of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington, of which Matthew is also charged, was scheduled for October 24, 2016.