Huguely Trial Day 6: Prosecution Witnesses Present Forensic Evidence

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The commonwealth resumed its case in the murder trial of George Huguely Monday morning. Huguely is accused of murder in the 2010 death of his ex-girlfriend, UVA lacrosse player Yeardley Love.

Monday morning, the jury was given a photocopy of the letter found in Love's bedroom signed by Huguely and written to Love. The jury was given a chance to review the letter and an email. These pieces of evidence were not read aloud in court.

Prosecutor Dave Chapman highlighted changes in Huguely since the May 2010 murder.  The George Huguely that walked into the courtroom for the first time a week ago does not look like the same person we have seen in pictures.   Prosecutors are spotlighting how Huguely's appearance has changed.  He is much thinner and much paler than in his 2010 arrest photo. 

The commonwealth called several witnesses Monday.  In the morning, members of the Charlottesville police department laid out forensic details; and in the afternoon, the medical examiner who conducted the autopsy on Love's body took the stand.   

Forensic detectives detailed the evidence collected at Love's 14th Street apartment on the day of her death, including a red-stained comforter, red-stained sheets and pillowcase.  From Huguely's apartment, detectives took a red-stained UVA lacrosse t-shirt, swabs from several areas, and a letter addressed to Love.  And from Huguely himself, following his police interrogation, they collected DNA samples and fingernail scrapings, noting injuries to his right leg and redness around his knuckles.  See below for detailed testimony from witnesses.

Three rounds of evidence were sent to the state crime lab. NBC29 has exclusively obtained a copy of one of the reports, which indicates that of 17 items taken from Huguely's apartment, only one – a shower curtain - tested positive for blood, and the blood did not belong to Huguely or Love. 

Detailed Witness Testimony:

Charlottesville Police Officer Steven Dillon

The first witness on the stand was Steven Dillon of the Charlottesville Police Department. He supervised the forensics team at the crime scene on May 3, 2010. Dillon said he took crime scene photographs and collected fingerprints, including those found on Love's bedroom door. He also described the pictures of blood stains and splatter in detail, but said he was taught to document evidence and not analyze it.

Dillon says he also supervised the forensic collection on May 5, 2010 at Huguely's apartment and another apartment in Huguely's building, the home of William Thompson. He testified that he was looking for DNA evidence at both apartments. They processed the bathrooms in depth, including using the chemical Blue Star to show possible blood stains on Huguely's shower curtain. Some highlighted areas were cut out and sent to a lab. He also testified that a paper towel was collected from the sink drain in Thompson's apartment with a "diluted" brownish substance on it.

Charlottesville Police Evidence Technician JW Carper:

The next witness to take the stand was JW Carper, an evidence technician with the Charlottesville Police Department. He reviewed the photographs of the injuries to Huguely's right arm. The pictures show abrasions to his knuckles and wrists, red palms and bruises on his arms.

Just before 11:00 a.m., court entered a short recess. Carper then continued testifying after the break, describing photographs of lacerations and abrasions to Huguely's right leg in the calf area. Carper also collected brown sandals, a black t-shirt and dark Nike shorts from Huguely.

Charlottesville Police Officer E.M. Pendleton:

The next witness to take the stand was Charlottesville Police Officer E.M. Pendleton who executed the search warrant for Love's computer and recovered the laptop from a dumpster adjacent to Love's apartment. Pendleton also executed the search warrant for Huguely's apartment.

He confirmed photographs he took of Huguely's apartment and evidence collected. Pendleton stated there was a blue "golf" shirt found in the living room as well as a white shirt with a stain. Swabs of the trash can and yellow stain on the kitchen floor were collected.

In Huguely's bedroom Pendleton collected another darker blue shirt and a pair of dark gray cargo shorts, both were submitted and shown to the jury along with two laptops found in his room.

In the bathroom, forensic investigators found reddish stains on the bathroom rug, shower curtain, and bathtub, all of which were collected and submitted as evidence. The drain plate was also collected and submitted.

Medical Director for Sports Medicine at UVA and Primary Care Team Physician Dr. John MacKnight:

The next witness to take the stand was Dr. John MacKnight, the primary care team physician for UVA athletics.  Love was under his care while she was on the women's lacrosse team at the university.  

Dr. MacKnight explained his doctor-patient relationship with Love and confirmed her prescription for adderall to treat Attention Deficit Disorder.  The prosecution had Dr. MacKnight explain the effects of adderall use.

Assistant Chief Medical Examiner for the Commonwealth of Virginia and Forensic Pathologist William Gormley:

The last witness to take the stand for day six of the Huguely trial was William Gormley, the medical examiner and forensic pathologist that performed Love's autopsy on May, 4 2010.  The prosecutor began Gormley's almost four-hour testimony by asking about his medical background and credentials. 

Gormley specified that he specializes in anatomical and forensic pathology.  He then explained to the courtroom the process of conducting an autopsy.  Gormley said the medical examiner's office is "responsible for deaths are not natural, sudden, unexpected".  He also expressed that they deal with deaths that could be a "concern to the community."  Through an autopsy, he examines the circumstances of a death and determines the manner of death. 

Gormley performed a full autopsy on Love's body - meaning the organs were removed and examined, tissue samples were taken, toxicology tests were performed, and reports were made.  The prosecution also asked Gormley to distinguish "perimortem" (defined as at or around the time of death) and "postmortem" (defined as after death) in order to describe some of Love's injuries.

Gormley spent time describing different types of blunt force injuries and defining – in detail – abrasions, bruises, contusions, and lacerations.  He talked at length about determining the age of a bruise or contusion by its color.  He also explained that they wrapped protective bags around Love's hands and feet to save evidence.  Gormley was then shown pictures of Love's body, and asked specific details about her injuries. 

Gormley pointed out to the prosecution that there are visible bruises in the photos on Love's right leg - specifically the calf, knee, and thigh.  Bruises were also shown on Love's left leg.  He also confirms two major bruises on Love's left forearm – one on mid-forearm and one near the wrist.  A large bruise over the knuckle was also visible, with an incision leading into it.  Gormley confirmed that he believed the incision happened perimortem, but couldn't accurately say how long before or after death.  He then pointed out round bruises on Love's chest, which he said could have been caused by "grabbing with fingers." 

Gormley moved on to point out a hemorrhage on Love's upper neck on the right side, under the jaw.  Gormley confirmed that the hemorrhage did involve the carotid artery, a major artery of the head and neck.  He stated that the injury was caused by blunt force trauma, and the bruising around it suggested pressure was applied to the neck.  The prosecutor had Gormley confirm that the pressure applied could "slow or stop the heart."

Gormley moved on to confirm a large abrasion under Love's chin and under her lip.  He then points out the contusions and bruising on Love's chin lip and entire right eye, with a large abrasion down her right cheek.  Gormley said there was no injury to Love's nose itself.  He then said that the mouth and chin injuries could have been from an attempt of smothering. 

Gormley also noted contusions on front surface of heart, and said they were consistent with CPR attempts on Love.  Gormley moved on to explain damage on Love's scalp and skull, where he identified a 2-by-3 inch bruise on right side of her head.  There were also smaller areas of hemorrhage further back on Love's head.  Gormley said the "sub-scalpular contusion" suggested blunt force injury on the scalp and was consistent with a head injury causing death.  Gormley then pointed out damage to surface of brain, and explained medical examiners often have neuropathologists come in and cut a brain with them.

Huguely's defense team then took over for cross-examination of Gormley.  The defense had him point out that there was no laceration or abrasion in the right area on Love's head.  They also had Gormley confirm there was no skull fracture or injury to Love's brain at that site on the right side of her head.  Huguely's defense emphasized that there was no injury at all on the left side of Love's face.  Gormley confirmed that all injuries were on the right side.

Huguely's defense then moved on to ask about the kind of damage that could be done to an individual's head from contact with the floor.  They then had Gormley confirm that Love had no facial fractures and none of her teeth were broken.  Gormley stated that the abrasion on Love's lower lip could have been caused by contact with floor, when asked by the defense.

Gormley also confirmed that the areas of injury on Love's lip, her chin, the right side of her head, and her eye are consistent with a "single impact event."  He then said that the only region of Love's neck where there was bleeding and contusion was on right side.

Huguely's defense had Gormley confirm that there was "no big pattern of injury that suggests significant grabbing" and that there was no significant injury on Love's upper trunk area to suggest force "like hitting a wall."  Gormley also confirmed that there were no injuries or contusions consistent with someone applying force on Love's back. 

As the witness testimony approached its conclusion, Gormley stated "circumstances of death" is not necessarily the "death scene," He finally confirmed for the defense that Love's body was found in a position covering her mouth and nose.

Before he stepped off the stand, Gormley confirmed for prosecutor that the injury to the right side of Love's head could have been from one or multiple impacts. This back and forth between the defense and prosecution during Gormley's testimony suggests that the exact cause of Love's injuries prior to her death is debatable. 

Court adjourned shortly before 5:30 Monday afternoon. Testimonies are set to resume at 9:00 Tuesday morning.

Follow @NBC29Huguely for continuous updates from the courtroom throughout the day.

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    In Depth: Huguely Trial

    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.

    Full Story

    An in depth look at the George Huguely murder 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.

    Full Story