- Associated Press - Thursday, August 30, 2012

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — A former University of Virginia lacrosse player who killed his ex-girlfriend in a drunken rage was sentenced Thursday to 23 years in prison after the defendant tearfully apologized to his victim’s family.

George W. Huguely V had three years trimmed from a jury’s recommended sentence of 26 years for the May 2010 slaying of Yeardley Love.

“Unlike Ms. Love, Mr. Huguely still has the majority of his life ahead of him,” Charlottesville Circuit Judge Edward Hogshire told the court.

Huguely, who is 24, could be released in less than 20 years.

Asked by Judge Hogshire if he wanted to address the court before sentencing, a shackled and tearful Huguely turned to Love’s mother, Sharon Love, and sister Lexie and said, “I’m so sorry for your loss and I hope you find peace.”

Huguely, of Chevy Chase, was convicted in February of second-degree murder of Love, 22, of Cockeysville, Md., a Baltimore suburb. Jurors also found Huguely guilty of grand larceny.

Huguely and Love, both seniors and varsity lacrosse players at U.Va., had a volatile relationship that spiraled into Huguely’s deadly confrontation with Love late on the night of May 2, 2010, after a day of heavy drinking and golfing by Huguely. Love was found the next morning, her battered face in a blood-soaked pillow.

During a 3 1/2-hour sentencing hearing, prosecutor David Chapman presented witnesses who described violent incidents involving Huguely before he killed Love. They included the beating of a friend who went home with Love after a party and the unprovoked punching of another person after a night of drinking. He also angrily wrapped his hands around a young woman in a bar after she told her father, his former high school lacrosse coach, to talk to Huguely about his heavy drinking.

“Sooner or later he was going to seriously injure or kill someone,” Mr. Chapman said.

Huguely’s attorneys acknowledged he drank too much, but Mr. Chapman disagreed that was the problem.

“The issue, your honor, is not too much alcohol,” he told Judge Hogshire. “The issue here is too much violence.”

In a police interrogation video played at his trial, Huguely admitted he and Love had a physical confrontation over their on-again, off-again two-year relationship but he denied inflicting the fatal injuries Love suffered. He said she had banged her head against her bedroom wall.

A coroner concluded she died of blunt force trauma.

Love’s death followed several months of tension between the two young athletes. Former teammates and friends testified that each accused the other of infidelity and they described incidents of Huguely’s escalating drinking.

The grand larceny conviction stems from Huguely’s theft of Love’s computer from her apartment.

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