Man pleads guilty, receives 4 life sentences in Virginia college murders

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Jesse Matthew Jr.

(Mar. 2, 2016) — Jesse Matthew Jr., the former cabdriver accused of killing two Virginia college students, has pleaded guilty as part of a plea deal, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Under the deal, Matthew will serve four consecutive life sentences in their deaths.

Matthew pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and abduction with intent to defile in the deaths of Hannah Graham and Morgan Harrington.

The state withdrew its capital murder charge, effectively taking the death penalty off the table, but reserves the right to reindict if Matthew violates the plea agreement.

Prosecutors had said they planned to seek the death penalty if the Graham case went to trial.

Graham, an 18-year-old University of Virginia student, went missing in September 2014. Authorities found her remains the next month on abandoned property 8 miles from where the college sophomore was last seen.

After investigators said they believed he was the last person to see Graham before she went missing, Matthew, a former cab driver, was taken into custody. He faces a capital murder charge in that case.

Harrington, a 20-year-old Virginia Tech student, went missing in October 2009 after attending a Metallica concert in Charlottesville. Her remains were discovered on a nearby farm in January 2010. Last year, a grand jury indicted Matthew on charges of first-degree murder and abduction with the intent to defile in the Harrington case.

Last year, a judge sentenced Matthew to three life sentences for the 2005 sexual assault of a 26-year-old woman in Fairfax, Virginia.

A series of Twitter posts Monday on the page of “Help Save the Next Girl,” an organization founded by Harrington’s parents, expressed gratitude for the plea deal.

“There are no winners here,” mother Gil Harrington told CNN affiliate WVIR. “You know, our daughters are still dead. But then, I corrected myself, that actually the winner is the community, and maybe that’s what the abstract of justice means.”

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