Jesse Matthew's Trial Set for Oct. 2016 in Morgan Harrington Murder

A trial date has been set for Jesse L. Matthew Jr. -- the man charged with the murders of two Virginia college students -- in the death of 20-year-old Morgan Harrington.

Matthew's trial in the Harrington case will begin Oct. 24, 2016. He is facing charges of first-degree murder and abduction with intent to defile.

Initially, the judge on Wednesday set the trial for Oct. 17, 2016, but pushed it back a week because Oct. 17 is the anniversary of Harrington's death, NBC4's David Culver reported. The trial is expected to take three weeks.

It will be heard by a jury, NBC29's Henry Graff reported.

Harrington, a Virginia Tech student, disappeared after attending a Metallica concert on the University of Virginia campus in 2009. Her body was found more than three months later in a field in Albemarle County, about six miles from where the remains of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham would be discovered nearly five years later. 

Matthew, 33, is also awaiting trial in the death of Graham, whose disappearance last year prompted a national search last fall. Graham's remains were found in October 2014, about five weeks after she vanished following a night out with friends. 

A judge had previously said the two murder cases would be tried separately.

Authorities say DNA from the Graham case links Matthew to Harrington's death, as well as the 2005 sexual assault of a woman in Fairfax County.

Matthew, of Charlottesville, was convicted in June for the Fairfax assault. He will be sentenced Friday in that case and could get life in prison.

A nine-page sentencing memorandum in the Fairfax case, filed by public defender Dawn Butorac, does not ask for a specific prison term for Matthew. It asks the judge to weigh Matthew's difficult upbringing and the fact that he was a first-time offender.

In a letter to the judge made public Tuesday, a former girlfriend of Matthew said that he was raped as a child and that trauma from repeated attacks played a key role in the allegations against him.

The girlfriend, whose full name was not included in the letter, said Matthew -- known to friends as L.J. -- was sexually abused by at least three different people "through his elementary school years. One individual in particular raped him on several occasions and forced L.J. to keep it a secret. I have no doubt this repeated sexual trauma during his developmental years played a key role in the allegations against him," she said in the letter.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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