Tag: george huguley

Huguely Trial Goes to Jury. What Are the Options?

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Only the jurors know the full details from the trial of George Huguely, the UVA lacrosse player on trial for the murder of his former girlfriend, fellow UVA lacrosse player (and graduate of Baltimore’s Notre Dame Prep) Yeardley Love. Starting today, those seven men and seven women (two will be dismissed as alternates) will deliberate until they reach a verdict. Will they find him guilty of murder, which may find him facing a maximum sentence of life in prison? Will he get off scot-free? The answer is probably somewhere in the middle; our speculation below.

POSSIBILITIES:

  • Not guilty. No one — not even Huguely — is arguing that his actions didn’t result in Love’s death, so the odds that he’ll be found not guilty of all charges seems very slim.
  • Involuntary Manslaughter.  In the videotaped statement that Huguely gave police in 2010, right after the night in question, he seems genuinely shocked and remorseful when he hears of Love’s death. This suggests that he hadn’t meant to kill her, and didn’t have a sense of how badly he had hurt her. If the jury can be convinced Love’s injuries are a result of Huguely being “a stupid drunk” who went to her apartment just to talk to her, not to hurt her, this is a possibility. If the jury finds that this was indeed an unintentional, reckless killing, the maximum sentence Huguely will face is 10 years.
  • Second Degree Murder. But remember that Huguely kicked Love’s door down to get into her room, which sets a violent tone to the incident right from the start. (On the videotape, Huguely initially lies about this, but admits it when pressed by police.) Huguely admits that he wrestled with Love, that her nose bled, and says that he shook her. If the jury finds that Huguely intentionally beat Love (which seems to me the most likely case), second degree murder is a likely charge; the sentencing guidelines call for 5 to 40 years.
  • First Degree Murder. The difference between second- and first-degree murder hinges on premeditation. Did Huguely go to Love’s apartment with the intent to hurt her? Consider the kicked-in door, but also remember that Huguely was very drunk at this point, which (lawyers argue) compromised his ability to make any sort of premeditated action. The prosecution is arguing that an earlier email from Huguely to Love in which he says he “should have killed her” (he’d just found out that she’d cheated on him) implies premeditation; defense lawyers say it was just a bit of youthful hyperbole. The sentencing guidelines for first degree murder call for 20 years to life.
  • The Robbery/Larceny Factor. When Huguely stormed out of Love’s apartment, he took her laptop with him. If the jury finds that this was a premeditated action — that Huguely broke into Love’s room to hurt her, and knew that he needed to take the laptop to hide evidence — then this counts as a felony murder, which calls for 20 years to life. If, on the other hand, the jury decides that the taking was an impulse or a drunken afterthought, the charge of grand or petty larceny (depending on the computer’s value) applies… adding zero to 20 years, depending.

As you can see, the sentencing guidelines mean that Huguely could face anything from nothing to life in prison. And we probably won’t know the details of his sentence for another few months. Under Virginia law, jurors return a verdict, and then hear more arguments from defense and prosecution before deliberating over a sentencing recommendation. The recommendation gets turned over to a judge, who can approve or lower the sentence, but not raise it.

Personally, I think the most likely outcome is a charge of involuntary manslaughter (if the jury is moved by Huguely’s videotaped shock at the news of Love’s death) or second-degree murder (the kicked-in door; the lies to police). What’s your best guess? Let us know in the comments.

Update: At about 6:45 p.m.today, February 22, the jury returned a guilty verdict of second-degree murder in the case.  

Baltimore’s Yeardley Love’s Legacy: Virginia Revamps Domestic Violence Laws

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Last week, the murder trial of George Huguely, the UVA lacrosse player accused of killing his ex-girlfriend, fellow UVA student (and Baltimore native) Yeardley Love, began with jury selection. (Huguely is pleading not-guilty, and his lawyers blame Love’s death on her [prescribed] Adderall use.) While the trial is sure to bring up all sorts of disturbing evidence, there is some room for hope as well. One of Love’s legacies will be increased rights for victims of domestic violence in Virginia courts, as well as policy changes at UVA and other schools.

In the wake of Love’s death in 2010, the Virginia legislature passed a new law that changed how the state handles restraining orders. Before, the state had no provision allowing people to get protective orders against people they were dating. Instead, the law was limited to family or household members — in other words, Love would’ve had a tough time getting a restraining order against Huguely if she’d tried. That’s one reason advocates for victims of domestic violence deemed the old law one of the least progressive in the nation.

Love’s death put the media spotlight on Virginia’s approach to dealing with domestic violence. Which is perhaps why when the state’s lawmakers re-wrote the law, they took the opposite tack, going from one of the nation’s least progressive provisions to one of its most lenient. Now, instead of focusing on the relationship between the parties in question, the focus is on abusive or threatening behavior — no matter the relationship. “It’s sort of opened the floodgates,” General District Court Clerk Nancy Lake told the Washington Post. The court in Fairfax got so many requests for restraining orders — three times as many in 2011 than in 2010 — that it had to dedicate a clerk to processing all the paperwork.

In allowing dating violence as a motivation for getting a restraining order, the new law has also enabled people in different kinds of relationships — landlord/tenant, roommates, co-workers — to take advantage of the law as well. There is some worry that the newly lenient law will encourage abuse of the system — as in the Richmond case where someone tried to file a protective order against a neighbor who’d put a dead fish in front of her door. But dealing with a small minority of frivolous cases seems like a small price to pay for a law that does justice to Love — and to all those who’ve struggled with abusive relationships.

Updates in the Yeardley Love Murder Trial

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You probably remember, but a quick overview of the facts:  The UVA lacrosse player and Notre Dame Prep grad was found dead in her Charlottesville apartment; her ex-boyfriend, George Huguely, admitted that he kicked in her door and shook her so hard that her head repeatedly hit a wall. But (according to Huguely’s lawyers), that’s not what killed her; instead, it was an irregular heartbeat from a combination of Adderall and drinking. Huguely’s lawyers won a pre-trial victory this week when the judge agreed to let them have access to all of Love’s medical records. The judge also banned cameras from the courtroom. Expect a lot more depressing news to emerge once the trial begins in February.

Meanwhile, Love’s family has set up a charity in honor of Yeardley. The One Love Foundation offers scholarships and other programs to “keep Yeardley’s spirit alive in others by promoting strength of character and service.” Next week, Notre Dame hosts a book reading with bestselling memoirist Kelly Corrigan (author of Lift and The Middle Place), with proceeds benefitting the foundation. And don’t forget about today’s Domestic Violence Symposium, which we told you about earlier this week.

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