CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — A former University of Virginia lacrosse player convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend lost his bid for a new trial Wednesday when a judge concluded there was ample evidence to support his conviction by a jury of second-degree murder.
George Huguely V sat mostly impassively during the 2 1/2-hour hearing as a judge rejected defense motion after defense motion seeking a new trial in the May 2010 slaying of his on-again, off-again girlfriend Yeardley Love, who also was a lacrosse player at U.Va.
Jurors in February convicted Huguely in the beating death of the 22-year-old suburban Baltimore woman. They also convicted him of grand larceny for the theft of her computer.
On the murder charge, Charlottesville Circuit Judge Edward Hogshire said, “I think there was overwhelming evidence to support the conviction.”
Huguely is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 30 on the two charges, which could send him to prison for 26 years.
Attorneys for Huguely cited what they argued were pretrial and trial errors in arguing for a new trial. Hogshire, who presided at Huguely’s trial, said he found no reversible errors.
Huguely, of Chevy Chase, Md., killed Love after a day of golf and drinking, incensed that she had had a relationship with a North Carolina lacrosse player. He kicked a hole in Love’s door to get in her bedroom and left her to die, according to trial testimony.
Love’s right eye was bashed in and she was hit with such power that her brain was bruised. She also had a wrenching head injury that caused bleeding at the base of her brain stem.
A coroner concluded she died of blunt force trauma. Defense and prosecution experts offered different medical opinions on the lethal consequences of her injuries.
Huguely’s attorneys said he only went to Love’s apartment to talk before the encounter quickly turned physical. He said she banged her head against the wall of her bedroom, and she only had a bloody nose when he left.
During Huguely’s trial, jurors heard testimony from lacrosse players who told of his escalating drinking problem and public spats between the two. Those included Huguely putting Love in a chokehold while on his bed, and one time when Love accused him of flirting with two high school girls.
Friends and fellow players said the two were unfaithful to each other and had a fiery relationship.
In a police interrogation video viewed by jurors, Huguely said he simply wanted to discuss their sputtering, two-year relationship. Huguely admitted he may have shaken her but insisted he didn’t grab her neck or punch her.
Members of the Huguely and Love families attended the hearing and refused to comment as they left the courtroom. Opposing attorneys also declined to talk to reporters.
Huguely, who was dressed in a black-and-gray jail jumpsuit and restrained at the wrists and legs during the hearing, appeared to have gained weight since his trial, during which he appeared gaunt compared to his playing days at U.Va. He had also let his hair grow over his ears. He occasionally glanced at his family, offering a meek smile.
Huguely attorneys Rhonda Quagliana and Francis McQ. Lawrence argued motions relating to jury selection, questioning and Quagliana’s brief illness during the trial, which they said should have warranted a continuance until she could return to court.
“We were co-counsels in this case,” Quagliana told Hogshire. “He has a right to be represented by the counsel he chooses.”
Hogshire “strenuously” objected to the suggestion he rejected a defense bid to continue the trial until Quagliana was fully recovered.
On another defense motion — the sequestration of jurors — Hogshire said, “How do you sequester a jury in the 21st century? How do you do that?”
Hogshire also rejected defense arguments that a juror with long U.Va. affiliation should have not sat on the jury, arguing he would never be able to pick jurors in this college town.
Love’s death had a statewide impact, leading to legislation that made it easier for possible abuse victims to get a restraining order in Virginia. The General Assembly passed a law that expands criteria under which people can seek protective orders.
Love’s family has filed two wrongful death lawsuits seeking almost $60 million. The suits name the state, U.Va. and Huguely’s former coaches.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)