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Cameras barred from Matthew trial in Fairfax

FAIRFAX (AP) A Fairfax County judge on Thursday rejected a request from news organizations to allow cameras at the upcoming attempted murder trial of the man who is charged in a separate case with the abduction of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham.

A coalition of media organizations, including The Associated Press, had asked to place a still camera and video camera in the courtroom for the Fairfax trial of Jesse Matthew and for pretrial hearings. The media groups argued that extensive interest in the case warranted the use of cameras to facilitate the public’s right of access to an open trial.

But Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Raymond Morrogh and Matthew’s public defender, Dawn Butorac, both opposed cameras in the courtroom.

Morrogh said the victim in the case “is really, really vehemently opposed to cameras in the courtroom” and he wants to do his best to protect her privacy. The victim now lives in India and has been cooperating with prosecutors and will return to the U.S. to testify.

While the cameras would be turned off during the victim’s testimony, Morrogh said other witnesses like nurses and physicians could end up describing the woman’s injuries, and she is uncomfortable with that kind of testimony being televised.

Butorac said television cameras could intensify publicity in the case and make it more difficult for Matthew to get a fair trial in Charlottesville, where she said she expects her client will eventually be charged with either murder or capital murder in the Graham case.

The judge, David Schell, said Virginia law explicitly excludes cameras from covering judicial proceedings involving sexual offenses. And even if he had the discretion, he said he would not allow the cameras, given the opposition from prosecutors and the defense.

Matthew is charged with attempted capital murder and other counts in connection with a 2005 sexual assault in Fairfax City. In Charlottesville, he was charged with abducting Graham with the intent to defile after the 18-year-old sophomore went missing on Sept. 13. Graham’s remains were found in October, after Matthew had been charged with her abduction. Thus far, no murder charges have been filed against him.

— MATTHEW BARAKAT, Associated Press


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