Huguely murder case goes to jury Wednesday

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Prosecutors in their closing arguments on Saturday portrayed George W. Huguely V as a hulking male athlete kicking in a bedroom door and scaring a young woman half his size into cowering on her bed in a corner before he killed her.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Warner D. Chapman held up the white door with the gaping hole that Mr. Huguely is said to have broken through to get to his onetime girlfriend, Yeardley Love, on the night she died.

“What kind of conversation starter is that? That’s the beginning of terror,” he said. “If any of you think he went in her bedroom and sat down on the bed with Yeardley Love and then she started getting aggressive … I can’t help you with that.”

Defense attorney Francis McQ. Lawrence in his closing arguments told jurors the defense does not dispute that Mr. Huguely, a former lacrosse player from Chevy Chase, had a hand in Love’s death. But he insisted that when Mr. Huguely went to Love’s apartment he only wanted to talk.

George had no intention of killing Yeardley,” Mr. Lawrence said. “He went there fueled with alcohol … it turned into something … and sadly and tragically contributed to her death.”

Jurors listened to more than three hours of closing arguments Saturday, the conclusion of the two-week first-degree murder trial. Deliberations will begin at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, after a three-day holiday weekend and a grand jury day at the Charlottesville Circuit Courthouse.

To find Mr. Huguely guilty of first-degree murder, jurors will have to decide whether he intended to kill Love, whether he did it maliciously and with pre-meditation. If found guilty of first-degree murder, Mr. Huguely, 24, faces life in prison.

The jury will also consider whether Mr. Huguely is guilty of felony murder, which does not require intent. That charge carries a maximum 40-year prison sentence.

If the jury believes defense arguments that Love’s death was essentially an accident, Mr. Huguely could be convicted of involuntary manslaughter, for which he could be sentenced to a maximum 10 years in prison.

Love, also a lacrosse player, was found early May 3, 2010, bloodied and facedown in her bed at her off-campus apartment.

Prosecutors in the course of the trial suggested that a drunken Mr. Huguely, jealous that Love was seeing another man, stormed into Love’s apartment, broke down her bedroom door and got into a physical fight with her that included slamming her head against the wall or floor and putting his hands around her neck. They say she died slowly and alone after bleeding in her brain caused her heart to slow and eventually stop.

“He left her facedown on her bed, palms up, her arms straight on either side,” Mr. Chapman said. “Her comforter was pulled up just below her hair. This woman was lying in a mess of a pool of blood where it soaked through to the pillow case and pillow.”

As Mr. Chapman spoke, sniffling could be heard in the courtroom from Love’s family and friends, who have been present since the trial began. Mr. Chapman’s voice also wavered with emotion at times.

“It goes without saying this woman is never going to be here to speak to what happened to her,” he said.

Mr. Chapman also read a handwritten note from Mr. Huguely which was found in Love’s desk drawer after her death. In it, Mr. Huguely referenced a February 2010 incident in which a witness said he saw Mr. Huguely with a chokehold on Love.

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