Thursday, a judge sentenced George Huguely to 23 years in prison for killing his ex-girlfriend Yeardley Love. That's less than the jury recommendation of 26 years for the former University of Virginia lacrosse player.
In February, Huguely was convicted of second-degree murder and grand larceny in connection with Love's death. Judge Edward Hogshire reduced the jury's recommendation to 23 years for the second-degree murder charge and said the one-year grand larceny charge will run concurrent.
The judge also gave Huguely three years of probation after his 23-year active sentence. Judge Hogshire could not impose a sentence higher than the jury recommendation.
Huguely didn't seem phased when the judge handed down the sentence, but he did cry when addressing the Love family and his own. Right before Judge Hogshire handed down the sentence, Huguely looked at Sharon and Lexie Love. He told them he was sorry for their loss, then thanked his family and began to cry.
Huguely's defense team used family members and a priest to put him in a good light. Witnesses for the commonwealth talked about Huguely's violent incidents prior to Love's death. (See below for sentencing witness testimony tweets from Thursday's hearing)
Charlottesville Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapman used four people to detail that series of violent incidents, precursors to Love's death. Stephanie Aladj described a 2010 incident where Huguely randomly hit her friend. Claire Bordley showed the judge how Huguely put his hands around her neck in a bar in the fall of 2008. And fellow lacrosse player Gavin Gill said Huguely beat him up in his sleep in the spring of 2009.
All of the incidents involved alcohol, which Chapman clearly said is not an excuse. "It doesn't cause people to do things that aren't in them."
After the hearing, Chapman became emotional when he was asked by reporters about what Love's future could have been. "All I see is loss," he said, "It'll be that way forever."
In regards to the sentencing, Chapman said, "I think together they've gotten this case right." He added that Huguely "can be held firmly accountable for all of his behavior in this case, and ultimately, I think that is what happened."
Huguely's defense team said after the hearing that Huguely was convicted of a crime "inconsistent with the facts." They do plan to appeal the case to a higher court.
"Mr. Huguely remains optimistic and he remains hopeful that a thorough review of the case will lead to the outcome, the just outcome that he has sought from the beginning," said defense attorney Rhonda Quagliana.
Meanwhile, Chapman remains hopeful that even with all the loss, something good will come from the case.
"It's so sad. But in death she's making a contribution to understanding about domestic violence."
Counting the time he's already served, and good behavior, Huguely could walk out of prison in his early 40s. Chapman says he will still have a lot of life ahead of him.
Statement from the family of Yeardley Love
We would like to thank everyone who worked so tirelessly on Yeardley's behalf. In particular, we would like to thank Dave Chapman for his dedication and compassion. I don't know how we would have gotten through the past two years without him.
We find no joy in others sorrow. We plan to work diligently through the One Love Foundation to try and prevent this from happening to another family.
We are relieved to put this chapter behind us. Again, we would like to thank everyone for showing us such kindness during the most difficult time of our lives.
Sharon and Lexie Love August 30, 2012
Statement from the Family of George Huguely August 30, 2012
Today is a sad day for our family. The past twenty-eight months have been the most difficult in our lives. We love George and will always support him.
We continue to believe what Mr. Lawrence said within hours of meeting George, on May 3, 2010, "Yeardley's death was not intended but an accident with a tragic outcome."
Yeardley will always be in our hearts. We hope and pray that the passage of time will bring some semblance of peace and healing to each and everyone who has been affected by this tragedy most especially the Love family.
Defense attorney Rhonda Quagliana speaking to judge in Huguely sentencing - "we believe there was a rush in judgment".
Quagliana: "real work begins with court today...under our system judge doesn't accept unquestioning".
Quagliana: "court must decide what is the just punishment". She goes on to talk about importance of sentencing guidelines.
Quagliana recommends low end of sentencing guidelines - 14 years for Huguely (as noted in defense sentencing memorandum referenced earlier).
Probation officer Jeffrey Leonard
Probation officer Jeffrey Leonard is on the stand inHuguely sentencing hearing. He prepared the pre-sentence report.
Leonard confirms that there were 2 victim impact statements - from Sharon and Lexie Love.
Aladj confirmed relationship with Huguely. She tells Commonwealth's Attorney Chapman she was also in Love's sorority pledge class.
Aladj in sentencing hearing: "we did not date...but we were romantically involved occasionally" - refers to relations with Huguely.
Aladj talks about a 2010 incident where they were on UVA corner and Huguely hit another friend, says there was nothing to cause incident.
Defense attorney Fran Lawrence asks about Huguely's swing - "but there was minimal contact?" Aladj says she didn't know but friend was OK after.
Claire Bordley, played lacrosse at UVA and was 2 yrs older than Huguely, on witness stand. Her father was Huguely's lax coach in HS.
Bordley says she told her father about Huguely 's "excessive drinking" the summer after she graduated UVA
Bordley then recalls an incident at Boylan Heights when she came back to UVA for grad school where Huguely "approached me & was upset".
Bordley: Huguely was upset because I told my father about his behavior. "He grabbed me with both hands around my neck". Bouncer escorted him out.
Gavin Gill, former UVA lacrosse player and Huguely's teammate, is on the stand.
Gill recalls incident in spring 2009, where he left an "off-campus" party with Love. Says Love had told him she and Huguely we're broken up.
Gill says he consumed a "fair amount" of alcohol and then he and Love went back to her apartment. He said he "believed" Huguely was at same party.
Gill says he had gone home sometime in the middle of the night and was woken up "by George on top of me...he beat me up".
Gill says that the swelling and bruising on his head were the only way to identify where Huguely hit him. Otherwise, he doesn't remember.
Gill says Huguely apologized & they went to tell their coach about the incident - "I wanted to make it clear I was in the wrong as well".
Gill recalls telling the lacrosse coach about incident with Huguely: "I didn't want George to be punished for it."
Defense attorney Fran Lawrence asks Gill about his relations with Love: "not romantically involved but has some hook ups?" Gill: "yes".
Lawrence brings up that Gill had stated previously his relationship with Love was "shallow"- "we were friends but not close friends".
Gill tells Lawrence about an apologetic conversation he had with Huguely.
Gill says he and Love "didn't speak after that" incident.
Gill tells commonwealth that he doesn't remember which hand Huguely punched him with but it was "in the head, in the face...multiple times".
Henry Masur, professor of medicine at George Washington University
Masur lives in Bethesda, MD and his 25-year-old son Jack was a close friend of Huguely. "George was the right kind of friend."
Jack Masur was referenced in defense sentencing memo. Dad talks about how Huguely was "the type of person we wanted our son to be around".
Masur says he saw Huguely and family several times a month - "I never saw George fight", also said Huguely was a "great leader".
Maria Fisher, Huguely's aunt, is now on stand, says they were "very close family".
Defense attorney asking Fisher about family history and where kids went to school.
Fisher: "Georgie never loved more than 4-5 miles away from us." She says he was "well-loved and well-respected" by others.
Fisher recalls the family's interactions with Yeardley: "she was always included...we cherished her...we loved her".
Defense attorney asks if Fisher saw any concern regarding alcohol in Huguely's life - "nothing out of the ordinary".
Fisher says drinking culture in colleges across the country is "unfortunate".
Fisher about Huguely: "he was like a people magnet, kids loved him, parents loved him...his phone was always going off."
Fisher: "no one is perfect...I know him as a loving, good-hearted friend and family member."
Father Joseph Scordo of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church
Father Scordo says he received" a message...very clear-you need to visit that boy" said message wouldn't go away ended up visiting Huguely.
Scordo talks about seeing Huguely, allowed to meet for 30 minutes every Mon. talked about"faith, prayer life, religion, family, UVA, sports".
Father Scordo says Huguely would not become agitated, angry - says he is not the person media portrayed him as.
Scordo says he "purposefully didn't talk to Huguely about that night", says Huguely is "definitely a spiritual young man".
Father Scordo says Huguely told him "I want the truth, I want the truth, I want the truth to come out."
George Huguely's Uncle (name not currently available)
Huguely's uncle is on the stand telling stories about Huguely - one on his faith, another on saving a family member.
Uncle says "I know this child, this boy, he has always given, not a taker I don't know what happened that night."
Uncle: "I know the fabric of this kid...I know he is capable of giving to society."
Uncle: "no memories of George drinking alcohol in my presence."
Closing Arguments - Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapman
Commonwealth Attorney Chapman now addressing Judge Hogshire - asks court to impose 3 years of "post release supervision" for 2nd degree murder
Chapman also requests court impose another year of probation for grand larceny charge also requests Huguely not drink alcohol for 1 year.
Chapman: "Mr. Huguely is a young man and he will be a young man when he is released....there's a world of good he can do".
Chapman finished closing remarks says "sentence of 26 years is perfectly appropriate" for Huguely.
Chapman: Huguely had 3 wake up calls- 1) incident where he confronted Bordley about telling alcohol problem 2) Nov 2008 arrest in Lexington.
Huguely wake up calls continued: 3) "entering the home of someone else with the intent to commit assault and battery" - referring to Gill.
Chapman about Love: "A young woman had every right to wake up the next morning and go about her life.
Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapman back at podium: "the issue isn't too much alcohol, it's too much violence".
Closing Arguments - defense attorney Fran Lawrence
Huguely defense asks court to put everything in perspective references 3 things Chapman brought up - "3 instances don't define George".Lawrence in Huguely sentencing closing: "the purpose for us to set guidelines is for us to say 'that's not the way it should be'".
Lawrence: "Court has to look at evidence and decide where this case should fall".
Huguely defense is asking the court to consider the civil suit brought up against Huguely by the Love family - Chapman objects.
Lawrence brought up the civil suit and said it was "purely seeking damages" from Huguely. Chapman objects.
Huguely defense Attorney Lawrence requests the court give 3 years of probation rather than the 4 requested by the commonwealth, defense rests.
Judge Edward Hogshire sentences Huguely to 23 years in prison
Judge Hogshire determines Huguely sentence: reduces to 23 years for second-degree murder and one year for grand larceny runs concurrent – 23 years total
Judge Hogshire also gives Huguely 3 years probation, after 23 years active sentence. Will meet tomorrow morning to file motions.
Judge Hogshire before sentencing: "I do believe we had a jury of Charlottesville's finest...what they saw evidence of was a brutal beating."
Judge Hogshire before sentencing: "When [Huguely] came that night to see Love, violence was palpable, lethal."
Judge Hogshire before sentencing announced: "Unlike Love, Huguely has a majority of his life remaining."