Jesse Matthew Jr., the Virginia man charged in the murders of Hannah Graham and Morgan Harrington, has been given three life sentences for the 2005 attempted murder, sexual assault and abduction of another woman, PEOPLE confirms.
A Fairfax County circuit court judge handed down the sentences on Friday. Matthew, 33, previously entered an Alford plea for the violent 2005 attack in which he grabbed a 26-year-old woman and dragged her to a nearby wooded area. (An Alford Plea is when a defendant does not admit guilt, but acknowledges that there is enough evidence for a conviction.)
One of Matthew’s attorneys, Dawn Butorac, declined comment to PEOPLE. He has not yet entered a plea for either of the murder charges against him, an Albemarle County Court spokesperson tells PEOPLE.
Matthew’s mother screamed out “No!” as the sentences were handed out and told Judge David Schell to “rot in hell,” the Associated Press reports. She refused to budge as deputies tried to take her from the courtroom. Matthew, under escort, left the room quietly.
Matthew’s family previously asked for mercy for him, and the defense argued that Matthew was a victim of sexual abuse as a child. But the prosecutor Raymond Morrogh, told WTVR that Matthew’s alleged past is no excuse.
“If he was, in fact, abused, he should know better than anyone the pain associated with that,” Morrogh said after the sentencing. “And for him to treat [the victim] in the manner he did was despicable and violent and I’m glad he got three life sentences.”
DNA Evidence From Hannah Graham Case Linked Matthew to Fairfax Attack
Matthew’s trial in the death of Hannah Graham, the 18-year-old college student found dead last year, is set for July. It was DNA evidence from Graham’s case that linked Matthew to the Fairfax attack, prosecutors said in June.
During June testimony in the Fairfax trial, the victim testified that Matthew approached her and asked her a confusing question about directions before grabbing her and dragging her into a secluded, wooded area.
“He banged my head on the grass, on the ground,” the victim said. “I was trying to push him away. I was pushing him away. I was punching him. He choked me.”
She continued: “He said, ‘If you scream again, I will twist your neck. If you let me do this, I will let you go.'”
She said she lost consciousness when Matthew choked her. A passerby soon scared him off.
Now, a decade later, Matthew faces two murder trials. A grand jury recently indicted Matthew on first-degree murder and abduction in the case of Harrington, a 20-year-old college student who disappeared in 2009, according to CNN.
The parents of both Harrington and Graham were at the sentencing on Friday, but Harrington’s mother, Gil, said there were “no winners” that day.
“There’s loss all around, loss and pain all around,” Gil told WTVR after the sentencing. “[The victim] lost her innocence, we lost our beloved Morgan, the Grahams lost Hannah, Jesse’s lost his freedom. His family has lost access to him.”
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