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Top prosecutor responds to defense motions in Jesse Matthew case

FILE - In this Nov. 14, 2014 file photo Jesse Matthew Jr. looks toward the gallery while appearing in court in Fairfax, Va. A woman who authorities say was sexually assaulted by the same man charged with killing a University of Virginia student...
FILE - In this Nov. 14, 2014 file photo Jesse Matthew Jr. looks toward the gallery while appearing in court in Fairfax, Va. A woman who authorities say was sexually assaulted by the same man charged with killing a University of Virginia student... (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

ALBEMARLE CO. (WVIR) - Albemarle County's top prosecutor is responding to a slew of motions filed by Jesse Matthew's defense team.

Albemarle Co. Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford is attempting to convince a judge to deny, at least in part, the majority of the defense's motions in the capital murder case.

Matthew, 33, is accused of abducting University of Virginia student Hannah Graham from Charlottesville's Downtown Mall in September 2014 and killing her. Her body was found in a wooded area off of Old Lynchburg Road in southern Albemarle County.

The defense filed the 12 motions on Wednesday, July 29, in Albemarle Circuit Court. The motions deal with evidence leading up to the trial and what the defense wants at trial.

Court documents filed by the prosecution on Thursday respond line by line to the defense's motions. Lunsford called most of the defense motions "too board" or "beyond what the law calls for." Most notably, the prosecution wants people to be able to wear small pins with the letters "HG" on them at next year's trial.

The commonwealth also doesn't want to spell out which of the 10 aggravating factors - used for capital murder charges - it would rely on at a potential sentencing hearing. Those factors are:

  • The murder was especially heinous, atrocious, cruel or depraved (or involved torture)
  • The defendant is a future danger
  • The willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing of any person in the commission of abduction when the abduction was committed with the intent to extort money or a pecuniary benefit or with the intent to defile the victim of such abduction
  • The willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing of any person in the commission of, or subsequent to, rape or attempted rape, forcible sodomy or attempted forcible sodomy or object sexual penetration
  • The willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing of any person in the commission of robbery or attempted robbery
  • The willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing of any person by another pursuant to the direction or order of one who is engaged in a continuing criminal enterprise
  • The willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing of any person by another in the commission of or attempted commission of an act of terrorism
  • Murder victim was under the age of 14 and the defendant was 21 years of age of older
  • The willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing of a law enforcement officer or any law enforcement officer of another state or the US having the power to arrest for a felony under the laws when such killing is for the purpose of interfering with the performances of his official duties
  • The willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing of a pregnant woman by one who knows that the woman is pregnant and has the intent to cause the involuntary termination of the woman's pregnancy without a live birth
  • Judge Cheryl Higgins will take up all 12 motions and hear from both sides at a hearing at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, August 20.