Jesse Matthew Jr: 3 life prison terms for 2005 sex assault

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Friday, October 2, 2015
Jesse Matthew Jr.

FAIRFAX, VA (KTRK) -- Jesse Matthew Jr., charged with the murders of college students Hannah Graham and Morgan Harrington, was sentenced Friday to three life prison terms for a sexual assault on a woman a decade ago in northern Virginia.

The Charlottesville, Virginia, man was sentenced in Fairfax, a suburb of the nation's capital, for attempted capital murder and sexual assault of a woman in 2005. The judge at Friday's packed sentencing hearing ordered the sentences to be served consecutively.

DNA evidence collected from Matthew during last year's investigation of Graham's disappearance linked him to the Fairfax County case. Matthew was arrested in Galveston last year in connection with the case.

As the sentence was read out, Matthew's mother, Debra Carr, began screaming "No!" and sobbed. She refused to move as deputies tried to take her out of the courtroom.

Matthew said nothing and left the courtroom under escort quietly, his head hanging low. He said only "No, sir" when asked if he had anything to say just before Judge David Schell imposed sentence.

Matthew's family had asked the judge for leniency, and a former girlfriend wrote a letter on Matthew's behalf saying he was raped as a child.

His trial in the Hannah Graham case is set for July. He faces a possible death sentence there.

Though sentencing guidelines had called for a lesser term, Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Morrogh urged a life sentence.

"He was hunting free from conscience - no restraint," Morrogh told the court, describing the night Matthew attacked his victim.

He called Matthew a "modern day Jekyll and Hyde" who projected an image as a gentle giant to friends and family while hiding his life as a violent sexual predator.

"Killing her with his bare hands would have been the ultimate rush for him," Morrogh said. "He seeks mercy but is himself merciless. He seeks empathy, but he is heartless."

The Associated Press contributed to this report