Huguely Trial Day 3: Jury Seated, Opening Statements, Prosecution Begins Calling Witnesses

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Photo courtesy of the Daily Progress Photo courtesy of the Daily Progress
Photo courtesy of the Daily Progress Photo courtesy of the Daily Progress

The third day of the George Huguely murder trial began at 9:30 Wednesday morning. Huguely is accused of killing his ex-girlfriend Yeardley Love in May 2010.   

Around 10:30 a.m., 14 people, 12 jurors and two alternates, were sworn in. To avoid a mistrial, the commonwealth and defense agreed to a jury of 14. Two people will be set aside once deliberations begin. The gender breakdown of the jury is seven women and seven men. Many of the members have connections to the University of Virginia. They include alumni, employees, spouses of students and UVA sports fans. There is also a pediatrician and microbiologist.

With the trial underway, television and print media obtained video and pictures of Huguely as he walked into court this morning. Those images were withheld from the public until the jury was seated, as per the judge's request.

Before Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapman began presenting his opening statement, the judge instructed witnesses in the trial to leave the room. Many of Love's family and friends and Huguely's family left. Love's mother and sister were allowed to stay, although both are expected to take the stand. They wiped away tears as Chapman described what happened the night Love died.

Commonwealth's Attorney Opening Statements:

Chapman says the events came after a day of heavy drinking. Chapman told the jury one of the witnesses, Love's downstairs neighbor will describe sounds of a crash or bang - alluding to Huguely kicking a hole through Love's bedroom door. The witness he says, will also report sounds of feet moving rapidly stating that evidence will show "that was an assault taking place."

Chapman also described Love's friend, another witness, trying to wake her. "Then, she moved Yeardley's hair, and she could see blood on the pillow" and above her right eye, was a "visible and ugly looking injury." That, Chapman says is how they say Love's body was found.

Huguely is also accused of stealing Love's laptop computer. Chapman says Huguely told investigators he took the computer, because it had "collateral" in an email dated April 30th, 2010 to Love. The prosecution says the recovered emails in evidence show he accused Love of sleeping with someone and said, "I should have killed you."

The commonwealth will present medical evidence showing that Love had respiratory and cardiac function for two hours before she died. He said that evidence will also show that she did not move from the time that she was either "placed, or pushed" under the comforter. In addition, Chapman described previous accounts of domestic assault between Love and Huguely witnessed by friends.

Chapman then continued to detail how the prosecution plans to lay out their case over the next few days.

Defense Opening Statements:

Defense attorneys had a chance to deliver opening statements around noon. Lawyer Fran Lawrence says Love's death was a tragedy, but the main items in dispute are the medical evidence and interpretation of events. He described the chronological events leading up to the night of Love's death as the "perfect storm" of terrible coincidences. He says both Love and Huguely were unfaithful to the other. "They were both involved. Both in drama," said Lawrence.

The defense also said they plan to dispute whether a wall played a part in Love's death. Earlier reports from the prosecution quoted Huguely in a police interview saying "her head repeatedly hit the wall". Lawrence stated that evidence will show the "wall played no role in this," and he plans to dispute the amount of force that caused her death.

Lawrence continued stating that when Huguely left Love's apartment all he knew was that she had a slight nose bleed. When Huguely was questioned by police and told Love had died, he said that he "never did anything that could do that to her," refusing to believe that she had died.

The defense also provided a second reason for Huguely to take Love's computer. They call it "immature compulsiveness," saying he took it to make sure Love would call him back in the morning.

They also plan to use intoxication as a defense to try for a lesser charge. Lawrence plans to prove the cause of death in their argument is cardiac pulmonary failure, not blunt force trauma, and a medical expert will show trauma to the brain stem was caused by CPR. He concluded by saying that Huguely did not show a "callous" disregard for human life.

Witness Testimonies:

The third day of Huguely's murder trial featured opening statements and testimony from eight people: Love's mother, sister, cousin, two roommates, a neighbor, a former UVA tennis player, and a first responder. The trial resumed after a lunch break at 2 p.m.

Sharon Love was the first witness called by Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapman.  She detailed Yeardley's academic and athletic background for the courtroom, noting that she was an "excellent student."  Sharon stated that the family was very close to Yeardley, and said she "came to every one of her games" and "talked to Yeardley every day of her life."  She confirmed that the last time Yeardley visited their home in Baltimore was about a month prior to her death.  Sharon Love shed tears as she recounted the day she was informed of Yeardley's death - "police came to my house Monday morning."

Lexie Love, Yeardley's sister, was called to the witness stand second, followed by Mary Ryan McChesney, Yeardley's cousin.  Both described how they placed Yeardley's belongings in boxes and suitcases, and drove them back to Baltimore in Yeardley's car.  All the items were stored in Yeardley's bedroom there.  Lexie recalls an incident later on, when a police officer came to their Maryland home and asked to look through Yeardley's room.  After receiving permission to do so, he took something but Lexie claimed he "didn't want us to know what he had, so we didn't pry."

Kaitlin Duff, one of Love's UVA roommates, was the fourth witness to take the stand.  Through tears, Duff described the layout of their apartment and Love's room.  She confirms that Love and Huguely had on "on-and-off" relationship for about two years.  Duff states she has known the defendant since middle school.  The Tuesday night before Love's death - April 27, 2010 - Duff recalls being out on the UVA corner with Love, their other roommate Caity Whiteley, and twin tennis players.  This is where she says one of the tennis players said he saw Huguely with another woman and referred to her as his girlfriend.  Duff said that Love "seemed very upset and unaware of his actions".  She then described an email communication between Love and Huguely in the subsequent days.  Duff then detailed the events of Sunday, May 2, 2010 - the night before Love was found dead in her bedroom.  The three roommates - Love, Duff, and Whitely - went to brunch and sat outside at a restaurant and bar on the UVA corner.  After they finished eating, the three returned to their apartment on 14th street to finish schoolwork.  Hours later, in the afternoon, all three women returned to the bar to celebrate a friend's birthday.  The defense asked Duff about the drinking that took place at the bar, and she answered, "everyone was drinking."  Duff said she left the bar early and went to her boyfriend's house for the night.  She was informed of Love's death the next morning.  Duff also indicated that none of her personal belongings, or those in the common areas of their apartment, were displaced when she looked through it the next day.

Anna Lehmann, a neighbor who lived in the apartment right below Love, was fifth to take the stand.  She described their apartment complex as having "thin walls," and said she could regularly hear people walking and music playing.  Lehmann said she was studying in her living room on Sunday night when she heard "a set of heavy footsteps going upstairs."  She said that shortly before midnight she heard a loud noise coming from above her apartment, something she equated with the "slamming of a trunk" or that sounded like "a boom box had fallen".  After the hearing loud noise, she chatted with a friend online for about 10 minutes about it. Then Lehmann said she heard the "heavy footsteps" again, and looked out a window of her apartment to see a man leaving the building and walking across the parking lot.  She described the man as having dark hair, wearing a royal blue t-shirt, and standing about 6-feet-tall with a stocky figure.  The defense pressed Lehmann about where exactly in Love's apartment she heard the loud noise, trying to point out possible discrepancies.

Caity Whiteley, the roommate who found Love dead in her bedroom, was sixth to take the stand.  She echoed much of what Duff said during her testimony, in terms of Love and Huguely's relationship, finding out Huguely was seeing another woman, email communication between the two and the events on Sunday, May 2, 2010 leading up to Love's death.  Whiteley specifically said that Love and Huguely's relationship was "more rocky than usual" in its last year, and confirmed that Love was dating a University of North Carolina lacrosse player in the spring of 2010.  On the night of Love's death, Whiteley stayed with Love at the bar where they were drinking after Duff left for the night.  Whiteley said that Love "was drunk but didn't seem crazy out of control."  The two roommates headed back to their apartment after several hours, intending to return to the bar after they showered and changed.  Whiteley said she doesn't recall seeing visible injuries, bruises, or lacerations on Love when they were getting ready at their apartment.  Love told Whiteley she was too tired and wanted to stay in for the night.  Whiteley said she left their apartment around 11 p.m.  She came back to find Love in bed under her comforter.  When Love didn't respond to Whiteley's attempts to wake her up, Whiteley moved her hair to see "blood on her sheets and pillow" and "cuts on her face."  She then called the police.

Philippe Oudshoorn, a former UVA tennis player, was seventh to take the stand.  Oudshoorn was in the apartment with Whiteley when she found Love in her bedroom on May 3, 2010.  He recounts how they called 911 as soon as they saw blood on Love's sheets and pillows.  Responders first instructed him to check her pulse and when he detected none, they told him to perform CPR if he was comfortable.  Oudshoorn picked Love up by her back and laid her down on the ground to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.  When asked if he saw any sign of life in Love, he responded "absolutely not."

Detective Chan, one of the two police officers that arrived on the scene, was the last witness to take the stand in day three of the Huguely murder trial.  He says he arrived at Love's apartment complex at around 2:20 a.m.  Whiteley and Oudshoorn led Detective Chan and the other officer straight to Love's bedroom.  He says he saw "a female laying on the floor on her back."  After it appeared that she wasn't breathing, he dispatched for a rescue squad. 

Court adjourned on day three of the Huguely murder trial close to 6:30 Wednesday night.  Testimony is set to resume 9:30 Thursday morning.

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    An in depth look at the George Huguely trial.  Huguely was convicted on murder charges in connection with the death of Yeardley Love.  Huguely and Love were both students at the University of Virginia.

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