Neal Augenstein, wtop.com
For the first time, Jesse Matthew's lawyers have detailed some of the challenges facing the 33-year-old Charlottesville man who is charged with murdering UVA student Hannah Graham and Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington.
In a sentencing memo, filed with Fairfax County Circuit Court prior to today's sentencing for the 2005 rape of a woman, Matthew's public defenders say he was sexually abused as a child, lived with an alcoholic father, was bullied and teased, and had learning disabilities.
Matthew faces up to three life sentences in Fairfax, when he's sentenced by Judge David Schell, for the attack on a then-26-year-old woman, as she walked home from Giant with two bags of groceries.
In Matthew's trial, the woman, identified in court as R.G., said her attacker picked her off the ground, carried her into a wooded area, molested her, and threatened to kill her.
In a letter to the judge, made public this week, a former girlfriend said Matthew confided he had been sexually abused by at least three different people, while in elementary school.
The sentencing memo, written by public defenders Dawn Butorac and Robert Frank includes:
"The physician at Martha Jefferson Hospital who delivered him was intoxicated, according to Mr. Matthew and his mother. There were complications during his birth, and both he and his mother were, at one point, in critical condition."
As a young child, Matthew was given the nickname "LJ," which stands for Little Jesse, since his father's name is also Jesse.
Matthew's father is a recovering alcoholic, has been sober for two and a half years, and credits Matthew for convincing him to get help. Matthew often drove his father to church services on Sunday.
Matthew has a small group of friends, identified in the memo as Benny, Vinny, Stephan, and Bobby, who consider themselves "brothers," having been friends since Matthew was eight years old.
In elementary school, Matthew was "physically assaulted by his peers, who often called him 'smell J.' Mr. Matthew was one of the only African American children in his community and he was often bullied because of this. He had an intense stutter and was also diagnosed with several learning disabilities and limited social skills, which only promoted further bullying."
"One of Mr. Matthew's childhood friends recalls that his shoes were once held together by duct tape, and he was often made fun of for being poor."
"Throughout Mr. Matthew's childhood and adolescence, his father was a severe alcoholic who had extramarital affairs and often brought Mr. Matthew with him to meet with his mistresses."
Matthew's parents divorced when he was 16, and "he was relieved to be distanced from his alcoholic father."
At Monticello High School, Matthew was "most valuable player" on the varsity football team, and voted "Proudest Mustang" by the senior class. He also played varsity lacrosse and wrestling.
Matthew had several romantic relationships while an adult. Diana -- the girlfriend he had confided in about his own sexual abuse -- described him as a "big, goofy, happy-to-lucky" guy." She said he didn't drink, because of his father's alcoholism, while playing football at Christopher Newport University.
In a memo section labeled "Medical/Mental Health History," according to his mother, "Mr. Matthew sustained numerous concussions and other injuries while playing sports."
Matthew suffered several knee injuries, is treated for hypertension, and has been troubled by kidney issues since 2007.
"Mr. Matthew has a history of suffering from Depression and was periodically seen for this but did not continue counseling due to financial constraints."
Since his incarceration, Matthew has been visited in jail by his mother, sister, uncle, girlfriend Holly, and other friends.
"Between his large family and close knit circle of friends, Mr. Matthew continues to have support in the community by those who have known him the majority of his life."
"Mr. Matthew does not have a significant prior record and this is the first time that he has been incarcerated. Mr. Matthew respectfully asks this Court to consider all of the above information when determining the appropriate sentence."