- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 22, 2012

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — A jury Wednesday evening found former University of Virginia lacrosse player George W. Huguely V guilty of second-degree murder in the 2010 death of estranged girlfriend Yeardley Love and sentenced him to 26 years in prison.

The jury found Huguely, 24, not guilty on four lesser charges after deliberating for nearly 10 hours. Circuit Judge Edward L. Hogshire can only reduce the sentence, but Huguely has no possibility of parole. The sentence includes one year for a secondary charge of grand larceny. The final sentencing date is April 16.

Prosecutors spent nine days in the trial trying to convince the jury of seven men and five women that the defendant had committed first-degree murder by entering Love’s off-campus apartment shortly after midnight May 3, 2010, breaking through her bedroom door, then killing her in a drunken rage.

Defense attorneys argued that Huguely went to Love’s apartment to try to talk about the relationship, which unraveled in fits of jealousy and excessive drinking.

Huguely told police during a taped interview that he had “wrestled” with Love, 22, but did not slam her head repeatedly against a wall as prosecutors argued.

“She’s not dead. There’s no way she’s dead,” Huguely is heard on a tape crying when a detective tells him what happened to Love.

Huguely and Love were seniors at the university in their final weeks of school. Love was also a member of the university’s women’s lacrosse team.

Among the last voices that jurors heard before deciding Huguely’s sentence were those of Sharon and Alexis Love, the victim’s mother and sister.

“Every year that goes by, I would like to know what she’d be doing now,” Sharon Love said through tears. “I’m afraid I’m forgetting little pieces about her. It’s torture. It never goes away. You just have to pick yourself up and do the best you can. You try and do the best for Yeardley.”

Alexis Love told jurors she still hasn’t touched her sister’s belongings in the bathroom they shared in the family’s suburban Baltimore home and spoke of how her sister’s death has devastated their mother.

“It’s the worst thing in the world,” she said. “I hate it. It tears your heart apart. There’s nothing you can do about it but be strong and try to make things better.”

The Love family also release a statement after the sentence that read in part: “We dread looking back on the events — and pray for the strength to get through each day. Time has not made us miss Yeardley any less, in fact quite the opposite. It is truly devastating to wake up each day and realize that she is no longer here.”

On the courthouse steps, defense attorney Francis McQ. Lawrence hinted at an appeal.

“We are disappointed with the verdict but proud to represent George and his fight for fairness,” he said amid the glare of TV camera lights and a cold drizzle. “We look forward to some corrections in what happened here today.”

Mr. Lawrence also said Huguely has the support of his family and that he remains “hopeful” and “spiritual.”

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