Charlottesville braces for trial of former U.Va. lacrosse player

City prepares to relive 2010 death of women’s team member

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday in the trial of a former University of Virginia lacrosse player accused of killing his one-time girlfriend two years ago in a case that drew national headlines and shocked the campus community.

George W. Huguely V, 24, of Chevy Chase, faces a first-degree murder charge in the death of Yeardley Love, who was also a lacrosse player at the university.

Love, 22, of Cockeysville, Md., was found May 3, 2010, in her off-campus apartment, lying face down in a pool of blood. Love’s roommate had called police at about 2:15 a.m. concerned that Love may have had an alcohol overdose, but police found her dead with obvious physical injuries. Huguely was arrested that day and has been in jail since.

An affidavit supporting the arrest said Mr. Huguely bashed Love’s head against a bedroom wall in the course of a violent confrontation, while defense attorneys argue that her death was the result of a tragic accident.

The case brought a crush of media attention to the quiet campus, which is now preparing to revisit the tragedy once again.

“What’s most unusual is seeing a local university issue considered national news,” student Bethany Janka, 22, said Sunday. “It’s so close and personal to us; it’s kind of bizarre.”

A half-dozen satellite television trucks already were parked on streets adjacent to the Charlottesville courthouse in historic downtown by Sunday afternoon. Many more spots were marked reserved and expected to be filled by Monday. Officials planned to close streets around the courthouse to accommodate the influx of reporters.

Officials say they have received about 150 requests for media credentials. The small courthouse has about 200 seats, of which 80 are held for the general public and 20 are reserved for reporters. Officials established an overflow room where reporters expected from around the country can view the trial by closed-circuit television.

Jury selection is scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, with 160 prospective jurors to be considered.

The trial will be the first public appearance since the killing for Mr. Huguely, who declined to attend pretrial hearings. A fence has been erected in the rear of the courthouse where prisoners ordinarily are brought to and from the building.

While news organizations objected to the obstruction, Albemarle County resident Beryl Wilkes said she was glad to hear Mr. Huguely would not have to make his way through the media scrum.

“I’m glad they’re providing him some privacy,” she said. “No matter how horrific the case, or if he’s guilty or not guilty, he deserves not to be harassed.”

University President Teresa Sullivan last week wrote a letter to teachers that warned the upcoming days would be “challenging.”

“As the trial proceeds, details emanating from the courtroom may create or compound emotional distress for our students, faculty, and staff, and demonstrating support for one another will become especially important,” she said.

Both Mr. Huguely and Love, seniors at the time, were well known on campus, and their lacrosse teams were highly ranked.

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