CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Prosecutors in the murder trial of George W. Huguely V presented crime-scene evidence and medical-examiner reports Monday, including gruesome and graphic descriptions of the victim's head and neck injuries, to build their case against the former University of Virginia lacrosse player.
Jurors were shown dozens of photographs, from pictures of Mr. Huguely's bruised arms on the day he was arrested in the death of fellow student and estranged girlfriend Yeardley Love to the autopsy images of Love's skull revealed from beneath a flap of scalp. He faces first-degree murder and five other charges in connection with the incident.
Mr. Huguely, 24, of Chevy Chase, told investigators he entered Love's off-campus apartment on May 3, 2010, broke through her bedroom door and shook her during an argument. His attorneys say Love's death was a tragic accident. Prosecutors have said Mr. Huguely repeatedly banged Love's head against a wall as he attacked her.
Dr. William Gormley, the Virginia Department of Health's assistant chief medical examiner, said the autopsy revealed several hemorrhages found on the right side of Love's skull, but he avoided giving a definitive cause for the injuries he documented. The cause of Love's death was determined to be blunt-force trauma.
"Blunt-force injuries are caused by an impact of the body with its environment," he said. "It's very sketchy work, precisely timing bruises."
Love was found by her roommate in her bedroom, facedown on a blood-stained pillow. She had bruises on her right side, and her right eye was swollen purple and shut.
Throughout Dr. Gormley's testimony, photographs were displayed on a large screen to jurors, eliciting a range of responses from some who leaned forward for a closer look to others who intently scribbled in their notebooks.
The victim's mother, Sharon Love, exited the courtroom for at least part of the autopsy report.
The proceedings began with an early-morning decision by Charlottesville Circuit Judge Edward L. Hogshire denying reporters' requests to see a courtroom TV on which crime-scene photos and other evidence is presented to the 12-member jury. The judge said he sympathized with the plea, but the request should have been made before the midpoint of the trial, which began Feb. 6.
A group of news-gathering agencies appealed the ruling, but no court decision had been reached by early evening.
Dr. Gormley said the autopsy also found a "small area of hemorrhage" that suggests "some pressure applied to the neck in that particular area."
But based on the bruising, he said, "there's no way I can tell how much pressure or what affect it had."
Mr. Huguely had told police he noticed her nose had started to bleed during their fight, but the doctor noted that Love had no injuries to her nose.
Dr. Gormley said Love also had injuries inside and around her mouth that would be consistent with smothering, but that he didn't see other injuries that would go along with an "asphyxial death."
During cross-examination, defense attorney Rhonda Quagliana asked Dr. Gormley whether Love could have injured her mouth in such a way by falling on the floor. He said the scenario was "unlikely."
Charlottesville Police Officer Jeremy Carper listed the multiple bruises to both of Mr. Huguely's arms, as well as red knuckles and palms. Mr. Huguely told police in his taped testimony that the injuries were from a lacrosse game.
Detective Sgt. Steve Dillon, who was in charge of the bulk of the photography for Love's bedroom, said there was "no impact point other than some smudge above the bed on the wall" and could not say how or when the smudge got there. Sgt. Dillon documented the multiple blood stains in Love's bedroom, including on the pillow, sheets and comforter.
He was followed by Charlottesville Police Officer Eric Pendleton, who handled the search of Mr. Huguely's apartment. The officer said he saw red stains in Mr. Huguely's bathroom, including on the shower curtain.
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