The suspect in the abduction of a University of Virginia student who was found dead last month pleaded not guilty Friday on an unrelated sexual assault charge stemming from a 2005 crime Friday.
Jesse Matthew Jr., 32, was brought to Fairfax earlier this week so he could be in the courtroom. His last hearing was via video arraignment.
Matthew was arrested and charged in September with abducting 18-year-old Hannah Graham, whose remains were found near Charlottesville after a month long search. Authorities say DNA evidence links him to the 2005 assault in Fairfax as well as the 2009 disappearance and death of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington.
Police say Matthew grabbed a woman and dragged her into the woods where he sexually assaulted her in Fairfax in 2005. He faces attempted capital murder, abduction and sexual penetration with an object, which are all felonies.
The hearing lasted less than 10 minutes, and Matthew, dressed in a green jail jumpsuit, said nothing other than entering his not guilty pleas.
Friday, Matthew’s attorney Jim Camblos was not in court but Matthew still had representation and pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The judge set a trial date for March 9. The chief judge, Dennis Smith, appointed Circuit Court Judge David Schell to preside over the trial.
After Friday’s hearing, Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Morrogh said the victim in the Fairfax attack now lives in India, but will come back to the U.S. to testify at Matthew’s trial.
“It’s fair to say she looks forward to a final resolution,” Morrogh said. “I am grateful to her for her continued cooperation.”
Going forward, Smith said he’d prefer that Matthew be jailed in Fairfax, though he will be sent back to Charlottesville ahead of a pretrial appearance he has down there scheduled for next month.
SOURCE: AP / WUSA-TV Washington DC – Nikki Burdine and Peggy Fox