UPDATE: Jesse Matthew enters Alford plea in sex assault, acknowledging enough evidence to convict.
FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) — Prosecutors concluded their case Wednesday against Jesse Matthew with testimony linking him to DNA found under the fingernail of a woman sexually assaulted in 2005.
The testimony from a forensic scientist is the key evidence against Matthew at his Fairfax trial. Matthew is charged with attempted capital murder, abduction and sexual assault in connection with a September 2005 attack in Fairfax City. He also is charged in a separate case with the abduction and killing last year of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham.
Scientist Elizabeth Ballard says the chance of a person other than Matthew being the source of the fingernail DNA is less than one in 7.2 billion.
The defense says the DNA evidence is insufficient for a conviction.
Matthew faces up to life in prison if convicted.
After the prosecution rested, Judge David Schell rejected a request from the defense to strike the charges against Matthew. Public defender Dawn Butorac said that the prosecution’s case rests almost exclusively on the DNA evidence and that it’s insufficient for a jury to convict beyond a reasonable doubt.
The defense has contended that the DNA could have inadvertently transferred from Matthew to the victim by coming into contact with a common surface or some other form of innocent transfer.
Butorac also said the description given by the victim does not precisely match Matthew, who was slightly younger, taller and heavier than what was given to police at the time of the attack.
Lastly, the lawyer said there was insufficient evidence to support a charge of attempted capital murder because the crime lacked a specific intent to kill.
Prosecutor Ray Morrogh said the evidence presented at trial supports the charges, noting that the attacker specifically threatened to kill the victim if she didn’t comply.
“He physically picked her up like a baby … and carried her into the darkness,” Morrogh said. “He did that to render her helpless for his purpose: to kill her and molest her for his pleasure.”
The victim, who flew back from India to testify, told jurors Monday that her attacker grabbed her just steps from the door to her townhouse and carried her into a darkened area, where he ripped off her clothes and molested her. She fought and scratched him, yielding the crucial DNA evidence, until her attacker ran off as a bystander approached.
The woman did not explicitly identify Matthew as her attacker during her testimony.
The Associated Press generally does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault.
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