Fairfax judge denies request for cameras during Jesse Matthew sexual assault trial

Posted at 2:37 PM, Jan 08, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-08 16:30:46-05

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. – The man accused of abducting University of Virginia student Hannah Graham appeared in Fairfax Circuit Court Thursday afternoon.

At that hearing a judge denied a request by a coalition of media organizations to allow cameras inside the courtroom for the upcoming trial of Jesse Matthew in Fairfax County.

Matthew faces charges involved in the attempted capital murder, rape and sexual assault of a woman there nearly 10 years ago, in 2005.

While it is rare for jurisdictions in Virginia to allow cameras in the courtrooms during trials, there is high public interest in what is happening with the number of alleged crimes involving Matthew.

According to state code, the decision to allow video or still photography is at the discretion of the presiding judge who agreed with statements submitted by both the prosecution and defense.  He ruled that cameras would jeopardize a right to a fair trial and the victim's privacy.

The defendant submitted opposition to the camera request that read in part: "If any of Mr. Matthew's pre-trial hearings are recorded, it will serve only to taint any potential jury pool both in Fairfax and any other jurisdiction wherein Mr. Matthew has pending charges."

The Commonwealth's filed response to the media's request for cameras noted that the victim was "vehemently" opposed to broadcasting of the case, and read in part: "She has already lived through a vicious attack and will have to testify about the matter before a judge, jury, and members of the public."

"Certainly, we can offer this one piece of mind and honor the wishes of a victim already made to endure a horrific experience by not traumatizing her any further," read another excerpt.

Matthew will attend a Friday hearing in Fairfax Circuit Court. The discovery, gag order and funding for DNA expert is expected to be heard. His attorney Jim Camblos will attend the 2 p.m. hearing. Camblos would not comment on the status of the mental health evaluation that Matthew underwent in Oct. 2014.

The trial is expected to begin on March 9.

Matthew was moved to Fairfax only recently, from Charlottesville, where he is charged in the abduction of UVa. student Hannah Graham.

Searchers discovered Graham’s body in Albemarle County, more than a month after she disappeared from the downtown mall in Charlottesville. While her death was ruled as a homicide, Matthew has only been charged with abduction with the intent to defile in the case.

Matthew was also forensically linked to the murder of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington, who disappeared outside the John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville on Oct. 17, 2009.

The DNA in the Fairfax case matches DNA found in connection with the Morgan Harrington case, though no charges have been filed against Matthew. Harrington was found in a location about five miles from where Graham’s remains were found.