- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 15, 2012

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — George W. Huguely V lied to friends about his whereabouts the night Yeardley Love was killed and had a “blank stare” on his face after he returned to his apartment, a close friend testified Wednesday.

Ken Clausen, who was among the final witnesses called before the prosecution rested its case Wednesday afternoon in the high-profile murder trial, said Mr. Huguely returned after midnight and claimed he had been visiting downstairs with two friends — both of whom Mr. Clausen said he knew to have been otherwise occupied. He also said there was a noticeable change in Mr. Huguely’s manner.

“When we figured out he was lying about where he was, it wasn’t adding up, it kind of seemed strange. There’s no reason to lie about something like that,” Mr. Clausen said, adding that Mr. Huguely “sat down on the couch and I noticed a change in his demeanor, that there was a blank stare to his face.”

Mr. Clausen and Mr. Huguely were teammates on the University of Virginia’s men’s lacrosse team.

Love’s body was found by her roommate in the early hours of May 3, 2010, face down and unresponsive in a bloody pillow. Mr. Huguely was arrested later that morning in connection with her death. He has pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder.

Prosecutors say Mr. Huguely banged Love’s head against a wall several times and that the beating resulted in her death.

A doctor testfying for the defense later Wednesday said Love died from suffocating face down in her pillow, suggesting a defense strategy admitting that a physical confrontation took place, but that Mr. Huguely did not murder his former girlfriend.

Mr. Clausen was among 10 witnesses who testified Wednesday. Several of them said Mr. Huguely, 24, of Chevy Chase, was drunk for much of the day before his encounter with Love, 22, who officials say was attacked shortly after midnight in her off-campus apartment.

Mr. Clausen said he, like Mr. Huguely, had spent May 2 at a father-son golf outing. He had noticed Mr. Huguely at about 11 that morning in their shared apartment parking lot, a beer in hand.

By the afternoon reception after the golf outing, Mr. Huguely “was trying to tell some stories to parents and they did not come out coherent,” Mr. Clausen said.

He also rode home with Mr. Huguely and his father and noted that the two were arguing about music volume. At dinner later, Mr. Clausen said, the son dropped a bottle of wine.

“His dad told him not to drink anymore,” Mr. Clausen said.

Mr. Clausen told jurors that he and Love, from suburban Baltimore and a member of the university’s women’s lacrosse team, were close friends and that he considered Mr. Huguely a friend and teammate whom he saw regularly enough to notice that the frequency and amount of his drinking leading up to Love’s death had become “ridiculous.”

He was followed on the witness stand by William Thompson, whose apartment was across the hall from Mr. Huguely‘s. He said Mr. Huguely entered his apartment May 3 after midnight and used his bathroom. Mr. Thompson said he wasn’t sure what he heard but remembers Mr. Huguely being in the bathroom for about 10 seconds.

He also attended the golf outing and dinner and gave an account of Mr. Huguely’s behavior similar to that of Mr. Clausen‘s.

“He wasn’t really making any sense,” Mr. Thompson said of Mr. Huguely.

The defense began its case after Circuit Judge Edward Hogshire refused to reduce or dismiss the first-degree murder charge.

A medical expert for Mr. Huguely’s legal team said Love died from suffocating face down in her pillow.

During his more than two hours testimony on the stand, Dr. Jan E. Leestma, a neuropathologist from Chicago, told jurors that he saw no evidence of a twisting, torque force injury described by the prosecution’s medical experts as reason for bleeding near Love’s brain stem and her subsequent heart failure.

Had there been that sort of injury, Dr. Leestma said, the membrane that holds the brain’s two hemispheres together would have been damaged.

The defense case was interrupted when attorneys on both sides began arguing about whether Dr. Leestma could talk about the crime scene because he had seen only pictures. The shouting temporarily cleared jurors from the courtroom.

Alphonse Poklis, the director of toxicology with the Department of Pathology at Virginia Commonwealth University, testified that Love’s blood alcohol level indicated that she was “clinically intoxicated” and that she would have had “a serious impairment of judgment, decision-making, reasoning and emotional control.”

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