Over the past couple days, the criminal investigation into the disappearance of Hannah Graham (the “Missing”) and the until-now-officially-“non-suspect” Jesse Leroy Mathew (now the “Defendant”) has had some developments.

Finally, it would seem that the façade that the Defendant was merely wanted for his poor driving habits and simply a “person of interest” in connection with the presumed abduction of Missing has ended. His official status has changed in places other than this blog to that of “suspect”. Criminal charges have also brought charging him with the suspected abduction.

Shortly thereafter, he was captured in Texas where he awaits extradition.

An extradition is the legal process whereby one state temporarily holds a suspect due to a warrant for another one to show up, prove that the suspect is the person actually sought and bring him back “home” to face charges.

In Texas, the actual charge to hold him due to the warrant is as a fugitive from justice. He was also charged with giving false information to law enforcement. In Massachusetts this is known as the felony of “intimidation of a witness” for some bizarre reason.
The charges now awaiting the Defendant, other than the motor vehicle charges, now include “abduction with intent to defile” Missing.

Meantime, in Charlottesville, police say an intense search for Missing continues. “This case is nowhere near over,” Chief Longo revealed in a news conference late Wednesday.

“We have a person in custody, but there’s a long road ahead of us and that long road includes finding [the Missing].” Apparently, the search is focusing on rural and wooded areas around Charlottesville, Longo said in an interview Thursday.

Authorities have released their understanding of the chronology of the night the presumed abduction took place. They say that Missing met friends at a restaurant for dinner on September 12th before stopping by two parties at off-campus housing units. Officials said she left the second party alone and sent a text message to a friend saying she was lost.

Surveillance videos showed her walking, and at some points running, past a pub and a service station and then onto the Downtown Mall, a seven-block pedestrian strip where police believe she entered a bar with the Defendant. The video that has been publicly released does not show the two entering the bar together.

Oh well.

The Defendant’s past has also been a subject of debate in the meantime. The university said he had been employed at the University of Virginia Medical Center since Aug. 12, 2012, as a patient technician in the operating room. He attended the University from 2000 to 2002, said officials with the Lynchburg school founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell. The school’s athletics website listed him as a defensive lineman on the football team.

More recently, he also served as a part-time volunteer for the football team at The Covenant School, a private Christian pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade school in Charlottesville. Officials said his involvement with the school began last month following interviews with the athletic director and head football coach, as well as normal background and reference checks.

Of course, after he was named a “person of interest”, the Presumption of Innocence being what it is, people who knew him began immediately disavowing him school officials said in a letter that he would “no longer be working with our football program while this matter is being clarified and resolved.”

Interesting. It often takes becoming an actual “suspect”. But then again, no sense wasting time I suppose…!

New information has also been unearthed to aid the Assumption of Guilt. It turns out that not only has the Defendant had automobile-related infractions, he seems to have had a few more (which include assault and grand larceny), the details for which are “not clear” according to the press. While Matthew has had past brushes with the law, the details of those cases are not clear. Also, back in 2002, there was a suspect of a campus rape investigation according to the prosecution by the same name. Charges were never filed against him that one. However, the government spokesman has said that “Based on information released by Liberty University today, I am confident it is the same guy.”

Good enough, I guess.

What, in reality all this means is anybody’s guess. However, since people see what they want to see, this should be enough innuendo to satisfy the “Where There’s Smoke…” folks and, they hope, start the movement to prejudice a potential jury for the case.

Attorney Sam’s Take On The Importance Of Innuendo In Certain Prosecutions And Other Updates

This is a case which keeps delivering more fodder already to several lessons in the realities of the criminal justice system…especially in difficult cases.

“How do we know it’s a ‘difficult’ case, Sam?”

Well, first of all, I am sure…or at least hope…that law enforcement has more to go on in this case than what has been released. By what has been released, we have a bit of innuendo which is probably enough to make the Defendant a person of interest, but not too much more. We do not even know for sure that a crime has been committed, let alone that the Defendant could be the one who did it.

I have practiced law in a few jurisdictions, but I must admit that neither Texas nor Virginia are among them. However, given that they are part of the United States of America, there are certain assumptions I can make. For example, the state is supposed to prove the Defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict him.

Of course, it is true that different juries in different parts of the country might define “reasonable doubt” differently. However, unless being seen with someone who later disappears is a crime, it is going to be pretty tough to get a conviction out of this case based on what we have been told.

It would, of course, match the reasoning the police chief has delivered to date. On the other hand, one would imagine, if not pray, that he won’t be making the final legal decisions in the matter.

“Well, we don’t know what statements he made or what the details of his history are. They might be enough.”

Funny you should mention that. I have been wanting to discuss the trip to the police department we discussed earlier this week as well as several issues which have developed since which connect to important truths about search, seizure and the criminal justice system.

“You mean…?”

Yes. We are going to continue this discussion for (I hope) one more day.

In the meantime, have a great, safe and law-abiding weekend (and Rosh Hashanah if applicable)!

NOTE UPDATE – Clearly there is no video blog posted yet. I will keep you posted, though.

For the full stories upon which this blog is based, please go to: , as well as the two listed earlier on my last blog.

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