Attorney wants UVa abduction suspect evaluated

FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) — An attorney for the man accused of abducting University of Virginia student Hannah Graham said Friday that he wants his client to be evaluated to determine his sanity.

Attorney James Camblos made the request for a psychiatric evaluation at an arraignment for Jesse L. Matthew Jr., 32, in Fairfax County Circuit Court, where he’s charged in a 2005 sexual assault unrelated to Graham’s disappearance and death.  

Matthew is charged in Fairfax with abduction with intent to defile, attempted capital murder and sexual penetration in connection with a September 2005 assault on a 26-year-old woman in Fairfax City. He is charged in Charlottesville with the abduction of Graham with the intent to defile, but is not yet facing murder charges.

Authorities say they also have forensic evidence linking him to the 2009 disappearance and death of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington. At Friday’s hearing, the judge took no action on Camblos’ request for a psychiatric evaluation, deferring it until a later date.

Most of Friday’s hearing, in which Matthew appeared via video hookup from the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, concerned who would represent Matthew. The judge appointed both the Fairfax County public defender and Camblos to represent Matthew as co-counsel, over the objections of Camblos and Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Morrogh.

Matthew requested that Camblos, who is representing Matthew in the Graham case, be appointed to handle the Fairfax case as well. “I would prefer Mr. Camblos to be my attorney, if possible. I’ve built a relationship with him,” Matthew said, with Camblos at his side at the Charlottesville-area jail.

Camblos objected to the idea of serving as co-counsel with the Fairfax public defenders, saying it would amount to “two chiefs, not enough Indians.” Morrogh objected on the basis that it would be a waste of taxpayers’ money to have both appointed.

But the judge, Dennis Smith, said the two ought to be able to work together, and bringing both onto the case should ensure that the trial is not delayed. He said the law requires the public defender be appointed except in unusual circumstances.

There was clearly some tension between Camblos and the public defender’s office — after both were appointed, Camblos told the judge Chief Public Defender Todd Petit had offered to allow Camblos to serve as lead counsel in the event both were appointed. Petit told the judge he had indeed made such an offer, but Camblos had rejected it and Petit now wanted his deputy, Dawn Butorac, to serve as lead counsel. The judge said he would leave the two of them to decide who would be lead.

Butorac declined comment after Friday’s hearing. Another hearing was set for Nov. 14 to set a trial date. After Friday’s hearing, Morrogh said he will continue to consult with prosecutors in the Charlottesville area to determine which case should go to trial first, and that he is prepared to go first or last. He said that, ideally, he’d like the trial to be able to go forward within six months.

He said the victim in the 2005 assault is no longer in the country, but is cooperating with investigators and will be available to testify at trial. Graham, an 18-year-old sophomore, went missing in Charlottesville Sept. 13. After a monthlong search, her remains were found in mid-October.

One thought on “Attorney wants UVa abduction suspect evaluated

  1. Too bad there wasn’t so much concern for the victims and their families. By the time they get through with their little political games Matthew will have died of old age.

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