CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WJZ) — Justice for Yeardley Love. The man who killed the University of Virginia lacrosse player from Baltimore County will serve decades in prison.
Adam May was there for the verdict in Charlottesville, Va.
Right before that verdict was read, George Huguely made the sign of the cross. Then, hours later, when he learned he could be in prison until he’s 50 years old, he covered his face and started to weep.
At the University of Virginia, students are debating the conviction and sentence of Huguely. The former lacrosse player found guilty of second-degree murder could serve 26 years in prison. As per Virginia law, Huguely will not be able to get out of prison early on parole.
“There’s definitely this unresolved tension about it,” one student said.
“I think it was fair,” said another.
“I think second-degree murder was pretty fair,” said another.
The verdict came after nine hours of deliberations. Jurors did not believe Huguely planned to kill his ex-girlfriend Yeardley Love, but they also didn’t think it was an accident. Instead, they ruled the beating death in her off-campus apartment was an intentional disregard for life.
Love was found dead in her off-campus apartment in May 2010. Prosecutors say Huguely beat her to death in a drunken, jealous rage. They say he was upset after learning she slept with another lacrosse player and drunk after a day of golfing with teammates and his father.
Yeardley Love’s mother and sister from Cockeysville moved many people to tears when they testified during sentencing.
“I’ve never wanted something so bad in my life than I have to see Yeardley’s face again,” said Lexie Love.
“There are no winners in this. There’s nothing but loss everywhere. Our hearts go out to the Love family. They suffered enormously,” prosecutor Dave Chapman said.
After the verdict, Huguely’s family also grieved. His mother bit her lips with watery eyes. Huguely’s attorneys spoke on their client’s behalf.
“He’s hopeful. He’s spiritual. And we look forward to some corrections,” defense attorney Francis Lawrence said.
Even though the trial is over, University of Virginia students say Yeardley Love’s death will be a sad chapter in their school’s history forever.
“She obviously will stay in everyone’s memory, but now the school can move on from the tragedy, hopefully,” Ross Haverty, a student at the University of Virginia, said.
The judge still has to reaffirm the jury’s recommended 26-year prison sentence. Final sentencing is scheduled for April.
Prosecutors wanted jurors to convict Huguely of first-degree murder, which would’ve come with a possible life sentence. Instead the jurors recommended a sentence of 26 years in prison– 25 for the murder charge and one for grand larceny.
The jury’s sentence is just a recommendation. The judge can reduce the sentence but can’t increase it. Formal sentencing is scheduled for April 16.