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Huguely Trial Day 11 - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Huguely Trial Day 11: Defense Rests, Closing Arguments

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The defense rested its case in the George Huguely murder trial on Saturday and we heard emotional closing arguments, but we will have to wait until at least Wednesday before a verdict from the jury.

Huguely is accused of murder in the 2010 death of his ex-girlfriend, UVA lacrosse player Yeardley Love.

The trial resumed in Charlottesville Circuit Court around 9:40 Saturday morning.  Defense attorney Rhonda Quagliana, who has been sick, was in court looking a little pale.  The defense had two medical experts left to call in the case - both Quagliana's witnesses.

Prior to the jury being seated in the courtroom, Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapman objected to the defense medical witnesses, claiming the defense team had improperly informed them of testimony in the case. 

Chapman provided four emails that he says were sent to Dr. Ronald Uscinski, an expert witness for the defense. Three of the emails were sent by Dr. Jack Daniel, another expert witness for the defense that did not end up testifying in this case. One of them - sent February 14 by Quagliana - included information about reperfusion, CPR causing injuries and watershed areas of the brain.  These were all important points of contention in the case.  Dr. Uscinski responded to Quagliana's email.

Chapman accused it as advance warning to prepare and added that it's beyond belief the court was even having to deal with this.  After being questioned about how he was influenced by the information, Dr. Uscinski said he "would not have know it was central to the case," and added that he had not prepared for it. He stated he "didn't read anything or absorbed anything regarding this email."

Judge Hogshire questioned the witness who later stated that he makes $200,000 a year in testifying, "why isn't there a light bulb that goes off," recognizing it was not right to open the emails.    

Judge Hogshire called it "very troublesome" that the defense had improperly allowed a medical witness to be exposed to trial info via email, but ruled that the witness could testify on all issues except those brought up in the emails.

On the stand, Uscinski testified that Love's injuries were not consistent with blunt force trauma.  He stated, "I thought she died of oxygen deprivation."

After the defense rested its case Saturday afternoon, Chapman broke down during his closing argument.  With a shaky voice, he told jurors that Love's death was not an accident but an intentional act and Huguely must be held responsible.  He showed pictures of the door Huguely kicked down and Love's battered face.  Love's sister Lexie and mother Sharon were both visibly upset.

Fran Lawrence, one of Huguely's attorneys, admitted to jurors that the suspect bears responsibility for Love's death, but added that the evidence doesn't show Huguely intended to kill her that night.

When the jury returns on Wednesday, the two alternates will be cut.


Witness Testimony:

Dr. Ronald Uscinski

Quagliana started the witness testimony off by confirming the witness could not testify on reperfusion, CPR-related injuries, or watershed issues.

Dr. Uscinksi started by reviewing the autopsy photos of Love's face and scalp, noting abrasions and contusions to eye, chin, jaw and scalp. He also stated there was not enough impact to crack the skull.

After entering pictures of Love's brain, he said it looked relatively normal, "unremarkable." He stated, there is no question of head trauma occurring, but said there was no significant brain trauma. He stated that the bleeding near the temporal lobe was due to swelling, rather than blunt force trauma.

Dr. Uscinski also noted that with the external injuries there was no evidence of major blunt force trauma. He equated having the brain stem injuries, the prosecution was inferring to, with minor external trauma to a person dying in a car wreck with minor bumper damage visible on the car. He was asked by the defense at that time, "are any of the findings you see here consistent with blunt force trauma?" Dr. Uscinski responded, "no."

In cross-examination, Chapman asked him about the damage to Love's brain stem. The witness adamantly stood by his previous statements that in order to get damage to the brain stem, you had to see other damage. He added that what is seen in Love's brain stem is from ischemia - insufficient blood flow to the brain. He said she did not die from the blood in her brain stem because "there was no bleeding," adding, "I thought she died of oxygen deprivation."

In reference to axons, he said they do not affect if the heart is beating, which was contrary to previous testimony from the prosecution's two witnesses. Chapman responded, "so her heart must still be pumping." The prosecution also asked Dr. Uscinski about his past experience in testifying. According to the witness, he makes "at least" $200,000 a year testifying as a witness.

Court recessed for lunch around 1:00 p.m., and court resumed at 2:00.  At that time, the defense rested its case.  The defense then motioned to change grand larceny charge to petit larceny, saying Love's laptop was not properly valued. In response, Judge Hogshire says it is up to the jury to decide if larceny was grand larceny or petit larceny.  The prosecution stated they did not have any rebuttal witnesses. 

At 2:30 Judge Hogshire delivered instructions to the jury.  At approximately 3:00 Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapman started his closing arguments and finished at 4:30.  The defense started their closing arguments at 4:45 and finished around 6:30.  The commonwealth's attorney then gave rebuttal statements.  At 6:45 court took a short recess.  

Prosecution Closing Argument

  • Huguely prosecution begins closing, in an emotional tone, Chapman states on May 2, 2010 Love made a choice that changed her life and the future for her family.
  • Chapman says that Love made the good judgment call to stay home but that choice "proved to be fatal"
  • Chapman states, "There's no evidence she moved from the bed. She couldn't."
  • Chapman describes how drunk Huguely was and had a "callous disregard to consequences"
  • Chapman reads from letter Huguely wrote to Love. In reference to choking incident - scared to know that he can get that drunk to lose control - "scared that I can hurt you"
  • Chapman asks "Why in the world would Huguely lie to his friends" in reference to him lying about where he was when Love died.
  • Chapman: the lie was in Huguely's own "self interest."  He can't tell his friends where he has been because of what he had done.
  • Chapman reads email from Huguely to Love, says it shows resentment... "I should have killed you - that is a violent statement"
  • Chapman is going through the inconsistencies in Huguely's statement to police.
  • Chapman on why Huguely took Love's computer: "He knew her computer was her only means of communicating with 'those Carolina guys.'"
  • Getting choked up Chapman puts pictures of Love's body on screen - describes visible injuries
  • Chapman on Huguely "I should have killed you" email: "These messages convey the depth of his anger and hard feeling toward Yeardley Love."
  • Prosecutor on Love's reaction to Huguely: "She's freaked out at what's come through the door. First his foot. Then him."
  • Reviewing pictures of her face. Asks jury to imagine the hit that caused that - then points to bruise on buttock - asks: A kick?
  • Chapman on photos of injuries: "She is trying to get away from him, trying to get away from this man." "She is effectively incapacitated."
  • Chapman, if Yeardley wasn't disabled why would she have let Huguely leave with her computer?
  • Chapman: how hard would it be to throw something against the window or scream? "You just have to be conscious"
  • Chapman questions the medical evidence provided by defense witnesses says that is "the difference between hired expert and a scientist"
  • Chapman says there is no medical evidence that Yeardley's brain injuries could have come from anything other than what Huguely did to her.
  • Chapman to jury: "think about it, what kind of force does it take to cause these kinds of injuries?
  • Chapman describes how big Huguely was - over 6 foot and more than 200 pounds.
  • Chapman says Huguely took her computer by use of violence.  He added "this woman would have crawled to get help."
  • Chapman notes the 20-25 distinct contusions found on Love during her autopsy.
  • Chapman says in police interview was Huguely upset because Love was dead or because he had just told them he was responsible for it?
  • Chapman: "This isn't an accident case."
  • Chapman spelling out first-degree murder - "willful, deliberate and premeditated."
  • Chapman says alcohol is not a defense to a murder committed during the course of a robbery.
  • Chapman talking about malice as it concerns second-degree murder - "a cruel act"
  • Chapman says Huguely driving Love's face into bed or carpet was a cruel act.
  • Chapman: if you are a 6 foot 200 pound person with your arm wrapped around her face - "isn't that malicious"
  • Chapman says if you set in motion a series of events you are responsible for what happens next.
  • Chapman talking about the felony murder charge - "a killing during the commission of another crime does not require premeditation or malice"
  • Chapman says Huguely was involved in a criminal enterprise, has legal responsibility for both the computer robbery and Love's death.
  • Chapman says Huguely used violence to force Love to continue to have contact with him.
  • Chapman says of Huguely's emotions, "you are so bent on making contact that you put your foot through the door to make that happen." That is violence of the abuser.
  • Chapman crying: "It goes without saying - the evidence in this case tells you what happened - she was killed in a commission of a robbery"
  • Chapman's closing about "killed during the commission of a robbery" is a strong point leading the jury to the felony murder option.

Defense Closing Argument

  • Lawrence starts the closing argument by stating commonwealth had no mention of intent in first 30 minutes of its closing.
  • Lawrence says there is overwhelming sadness for the Love family - "there is sadness on this side of the courtroom too"
  • Lawrence says the story the commonwealth was saying is the same story that Huguely told - "there is not intent to kill."
  • Lawrence says to jury: you've seen a lot of drama and "a bunch of attractive people come through here" half of everything is romantic
  • Lawrence says the correspondence makes it seem like "a jilted lover.  They each jilted each other."
  • Lawrence says Huguely email to Love "I should have killed you" is the same as if I would tell my children "I will crush you"
  • Lawrence shows jury a poster board full of pictures of friends and other UVA lacrosse players - refers to it abstractly as from the "ghetto."  He later uses the term "student ghetto" in reference to the UVA corner.
  • Lawrence refers to Huguely as "stupid drunk but not calculating.  He's a boy athlete"
  • Lawrence says in defense of expert witnesses he brought to the stand, "everybody has to make a living"
  • Lawrence says Huguely took computer as collateral
  • Lawrence says police would have told the court if they saw Huguely show any guilt that night.  He also said at end of the day Huguely told about the computer and the door.
  • Lawrence says Huguely showed no intent to kill, and Love could have fallen off the bed.
  • Lawrence says to jury on if injuries were reversible: "your job is to go back and cry about this and then wipe away tears" and deliberate.
  • Lawrence: "He didn't kill her.  He left her there alive and that is not a dispute, not in dispute, not in dispute."
  • Lawrence: our defense says no intentional killing because "he didn't leave her dead when he left her."
  • Lawrence says Love got into bed alone - not dragged or carried because #Huguely would have had blood on his clothes.
  • Lawrence in mocking tone said Huguely robbed her to make sure the remnants of the "email machine" didn't get out
  • Lawrence stated Huguely had his blackberry on him when questioned by police and tried to find emails.
  • Lawrence: "he dressed badly - wore an outfit to provoke the police" about the gym shorts and t-shirt Huguely wore to police station
  • Lawrence held up his hands to the jury and screamed "red herring" then stated, there were no injuries from fists
  • Lawrence repeats that Huguely is not calculating, "not complicated, not sinister, not Machiavellian."
  • Chapman objects to Lawrence's "blatant appeal" to jury - Judge Hogshire asks Huguely defense to bring it to conclusion.
  • Lawrence says to jury: "involuntary manslaughter needs your careful consideration"
  • Lawrence says Huguely "sadly, tragically contributed to Love's death" but there was "simply no intent to kill at all"
  • Lawrence has finishes defense closing argument. He says to jury "we trust you, we are so glad you are here to do this."

Prosecution Rebuttal

  • Chapman says on the stand: "when somebody's little girl doesn't wake up the next day because of criminal behavior, they are going to get a fair hearing…no more, no less" addressing the jury he stated, "then hold Mr. Huguely responsible for what he did"
  • Chapman says "when a little girl dies because of criminal behavior, the law is going to be followed in the city of Charlottesville"
  • After a disagreement between the defense and prosecution about malice, Chapman says "I resent this, distracting you (jury) from your sworn duty"
  • Chapman says to Huguely jury, "if violence used for any other purpose than theft, criminal enterprise continues. That's the law."
  • Chapman says violence and computer is part of Huguely 's "desire to maintain by force his connection with Love"
  • Chapman uses Love's door in courtroom to emphasize that it caught neighbor Anna Lehmann's attention - "what kind of a conversation starter is that?"
  • Chapman also says while holding Love's door in the courtroom that when Huguely kicked it down, it was the beginning of his "terror"
  • Chapman says about Huguely: "he may not have known he killed her, but he sure as heck knew that he hurt her bad"

Judge Hogshire told the jury to pay special attention to instruction dealing with malice when they do deliberate.  At 7:00 p.m. the jury decided to begin deliberations starting Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. because jurors stated they were too tired to consider the case Saturday evening.  

Follow @NBC29Huguely for updates directly from the courthouse. 

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