RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — After consulting with his attorneys, Jesse Matthew, Jr. has entered an Alford plea rather than face a jury in the rape trial he was facing in Fairfax County on Wednesday shortly after 12:30 p.m.
Matthew was accused of brutally raping a woman, who’s being called “RG” in this trial, back in 2005.
An Alford plea means that the defendant claims innocence of the crime, but admits that the prosecution has enough evidence to prove that he is guilty.
By entering an Alford plea, Matthew Jr. conceded that there was enough evidence to convict him for the 2005 attempted murder, abduction and sexual assault of a young woman in Fairfax County.
“Lot of defendants do it when they don’t want to admit what they did,” Ray Morrogh, Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney.
Morrogh could only speculate as to why Jesse Matthew, Jr. chose to enter an Alford plea.
After three days of witness testimony against Matthew, Jr., including a forensic scientist who linked his DNA to the victim of that 2005 attack, momentum shifted. A juror on the case said he would have voted to convict.
“I think he was guilty because DNA pretty much matched his DNA,” said juror Willie McDuffy. “The most powerful witness were the forensic scientists. They were the ones who kinda put the icing on the cake.”
The victim in this case, RG, expressed relief after learning of the plea and gratitude to the detectives who worked her case relentlessly for nearly ten years.
For Gil Harrington, today’s Alford plea was a step forward — a move that could put Matthew, Jr. in prison for the rest of his life. Matthew Jr.’s DNA is linked to Harrington’s daughter Morgan.
“This perpetrator will not be on the streets probably ever and for that I’m really grateful,” said Harrington.
Morgan Harrington, a Virginia Tech student, disappeared outside John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville back in 2009.
“I know a whole lot of investigative work went into a really solid wall that he can’t break through,” Harrington said.
The judge will sentence Matthew, Jr. on October 2. But before he decides the punishment, he will hear from the victim.
“She wants to tell the judge how this has hurt her and affected her entire life even to this day. She wants a chance to speak up for herself on that,” said Morrogh.