Albemarle judge Cheryl Higgins reportedly set a trial date of July 5, 2016, for Matthew. Police say he was the last person seen with Graham, 18, on Charlottesville’s downtown pedestrian mall before she vanished in September of 2014. Her remains were found in rural Albermarle County five weeks later.
Higgins also denied a defense motion that she recuse herself from the capital murder trial. Matthew’s defense team argued she could not be fair or impartial, arguing she issued search warrants early in the case, has a child at the University of Virginia, and one of her family members attended a vigil for Graham.
Earlier this month, Matthew was convicted of attempted capital murder and sex crimes against a woman in Fairfax County in a 2005 case. Matthew entered an Alford Plea, acknowledging that the prosecution has enough evidence to convict him but not technically admitting guilt. He faces life in prison when he is sentenced in the Fairfax case in October.
He faces death if convicted of Graham’s murder. The capital murder trial is expected to take roughly three weeks next summer.
Prosecutors say the 2005 case is linked by DNA to Graham’s murder and to the 2009 disappearance of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington, who was later found dead.