Defense Motions Denied in UVA Murder Hearing

     CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CN) – A Virginia judge denied several defense motions in a capital murder suspect’s pretrial hearing, including a request to ban pins with the alleged victim’s initials.
     Jesse Matthew Jr. may have been on his way to Mexico when authorities captured him in Southern Texas, according to police testimony Thursday.
     Officers who arrested Matthew found maps marked with indicators that he was headed for the Mexican border, Albemarle County Police Sgt. Greg Davis said, saying he may pose a flight risk if allowed to attend hearings unrestrained or in plainclothes.
     Matthew smiled broadly at family members in the small Charlottesville, Va. courtroom gallery as he entered in a green striped prisoners’ jumpsuit, belly chain shackles, handcuffs and leg irons.
     Judge Cheryl Higgins denied defense attorney Douglas Ramseur’s motion to ban insignia from the courtroom after prosecutor Denise Lunsford appeared at a press conference wearing an “H.G.” pin for University of Virginia student Hannah Graham.
     Graham was last seen leaving a Charlottesville bar with Matthew on Sept. 13, 2014. Her skeletal remains were discovered in rural Albemarle County a month later.
     Matthew faces capital murder charges for kidnapping with intent to defile the 19-year-old college freshman. He was found on a beach Sept. 24, 2014, approximately 400 miles from the Mexican border.
     Ramseur also asked that Matthew be unshackled during future hearings for his client’s comfort and ease for taking notes. Ten law enforcement officers flanked the courtroom — more than five times the average for hearings in Albemarle County, according to Davis.
     But Higgins denied the motion, saying that the restraints would be addressed on a hearing-by-hearing basis. Higgins later instructed Matthew’s lawyers to provide him a pen and paper, and for police officers to remove his belly chain so he could write.
     Matthew will be allowed to reinstate any constitutional rights, including his right to a speedy trial, which he waived at a June 25 hearing.
     Pretrial hearings will continue in Albemarle County until the start of Matthew’s four-week jury trial, scheduled for June 2016.

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