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Jesse Matthew capital defense team may seek to move trial

Jesse Matthew scheduled for pretrial hearing in Fairfax (Image 1)
Jesse Matthew scheduled for pretrial hearing in Fairfax (Image 1) (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

ALBEMARLE COUNTY (WSLS 10) - A series of subpoenas in the capital murder case against Jesse Matthew may suggest that his defense is looking to move the trial out of Albemarle County.

NBC 29 reports the  defense team for Jesse Matthew has subpoenaed 11 media outlets from across Virginia.

The defense is asking for news reports and documents related to the death and disappearance of 18-year-old Hannah Graham and the prosecution of Matthew. They also want each media outlet to provide a list of the frequency with which each report was shown, by either week or month.

Matthew is accused of abducting 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. Matthew is facing a capital murder charge, meaning he could face the death penalty if convicted.

The wording in the subpoenas leads some legal analysts to believe it's a move to potentially take the trial out of the area.

"The judge is going to have to decide if particular jurors know too much about the case; whether they can set aside what they know, whether they're firmly persuaded, whether there has been a lot of passion in the case. So what they need to know is, they need to know what exactly has been said, what has been in the media," explained legal analyst Lloyd Snook.

Meanwhile, Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford is also asking a judge to deny two defense motions: one of those motions seeks a prison violence risk assessment for Matthew. The other wants grand jury information and selection process for the past four years.

The prosecution and defense are scheduled to argue the motions Wednesday, September 30.