Murder suspect Jesse Matthew to undergo mental evaluation

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WRIC) — There are new developments in the capital murder case against Jesse Matthew, Jr.

The man charged with killing Morgan Harrington and Hannah Graham is getting a mental evaluation.

In court on Monday, the judge gave Matthew’s defense attorney the go ahead to hire a mental health expert at a rate of $350 an hour.

While the move opens the door to the possibility of an insanity plea, legal experts say it’s more likely the defense wants the doctor to evaluate their client for evidence that could be used at sentencing.

He might determine there are mitigating circumstances about Matthew’s state of mind or background that could sway a jury at sentencing.

“I think that’s very expected. I’m sure that’s par for the course,” said Gil Harrington after the hearing.

Matthew is charged with killing her daughter, Morgan.

What’s equally important to her and the loved ones of Matthew’s alleged victims is that the new Commonwealth’s Attorney, Robert Tracci, be prepared to handle both cases when he takes office in January.

Tracci beat incumbent Denise Lunsford in the November election.

“You’re going to have to trust that the man coming in is going to do his homework. They’re going to continue to do a professional job of passing the baton and that this case is going to move forward as it should be,” added Trina Murphy of Help Save the Next Girl.

Both sides will be back in court next week on December 17.

Stay with 8News for the latest updates and continuing coverage of this developing story.

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