The man who allegedly killed University of Virginia sophomore Hannah Graham is scheduled to go to trial in July 2016, after a local judge set the trial date Thursday.
Albemarle County Circuit Court Judge Cheryl V. Higgins also declined to recuse herself from the case against Jesse L. Matthew Jr. Matthew, 33, who faces the possibility of a death sentence on charges related to the disappearance and slaying of Graham, an 18-year-old from Fairfax County who went missing in September.
Video surveillance from that night shows Matthew and Graham walking together; she was never seen alive again.
Capital defender Douglas Ramseur filed a motion this month asking for Higgins to be removed from the case because her daughter was a U-Va. sophomore at the time of Graham’s disappearance. Higgins’ daughter attended a vigil for Graham before her body was found.
In court Thursday, Ramseur argued that Higgins should recuse herself to avoid “the appearance of impropriety.”
Albemarle Commonwealth’s Attorney Denise Lunsford argued that it would be nearly impossible to find a Virginia judge who lacked any connection to Virginia’s flagship public school.
Higgins declined to recuse herself, saying she could “fairly and objectively” oversee the case and has no bias in the matter. But she also ruled that a second Albemarle judge could be brought in “out of an abundance of caution,” to decide any pre-trial motions regarding the use of evidence from search warrants Higgins signed in the early days of the case.
Source: Washington Post | T. Rees Shapiro