Expert: Love likely alive for hours after confrontation

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — A medical expert in the murder case against University of Virginia lacrosse player George W. Huguely V testified Tuesday that victim Yeardley Love likely was alive for as long as two hours after Mr. Huguely attacked her in May 2010 in her apartment bedroom.

Dr. M. Beatriz S. Lopes, a director of neuropathology and autopsy at the university’s medical school, said her conclusions were based on tests performed on Love’s brain after her death.

Her testimony was followed by that of a coroner who said the 22-year-old Love had alcohol and prescription drugs in her system when she died, but not enough to kill her, as defense lawyers have suggested.

Dr. William Gormley, assistant chief medical examiner for the Virginia Department of Health, said Love’s blood alcohol level was .14, which is above the .08 limit for driving in Virginia but well below the normally accepted fatal range, which begins at .4. He also said Love had in her system only a “therapeutic” amount of Adderal, the prescription drug used to treat attention disorders.

Mr. Huguely, 24, of Chevy Chase, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Love, who was his estranged girlfriend and a member of the university’s women’s lacrosse team. He has maintained that he broke through Love’s bedroom door, shook her during an argument that became physical and left her alive. A video of police interrogating him after his arrest shows him stunned when told Love was dead.

Defense lawyers say the death was a tragic accident, while prosecutors say a drunk and angry Huguely killed Love by repeatedly banging her head against a wall.

Dr. Gormley testified today and Monday that Love’s death was the result of blunt force trauma, but no evidence has been presented so far to show where Love’s head was hit.

Almost all of the evidence has been presented only to jurors on a courthouse TV screen. The prosecution is expected to rest its case Wednesday.

Charlottesville Circuit Judge Edward Hogshire denied a request Monday by news-gathering agencies for a second monitor. Their appeal was denied today.

The trial began Feb. 6, with the first week including graphic crime-scene evidence and testimony from students who said they had “hooked up” with Mr. Huguely and Love, of Cockeysville, Md., during their four years in college. Some of the encounters were said to have occurred during the couple’s on-and-off two-year relationship, which testimony revealed was marked by a cycle of alcohol and jealousy

Dr. Lopes on Tuesday also said she found hemorrhaging around the brain stem that could have been caused by “sheer force rotation of the brain or brain stem inside the skull.”

She said such an injury could have been caused by some type of impact. But she said she could offer no expert opinion on Love’s time of death, level of consciousness, level of awareness prior to her death or any physical symptoms she may have exhibited prior to her death.

Dr. Lopes also said Love’s brain weighed more that a typical one for a women her age, which is related to swelling that can be caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain.

Her testimony followed that of Dr. Christine E. Fuller, director of neuropathology and autopsy pathology at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, who said bleeding at the base of Love’s skull could have been the result of a powerful twisting that could have caused sudden death.

Dr. Fuller also said she found no evidence that efforts to revive Love through CPR resulted in the bleeding at the base of her neck.

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