Huguely Trial Day 10: Case Continued Due to Attorney Illness
The George Huguely murder trial resumed Friday morning in Charlottesville Circuit Court but recessed again early in the day. Huguely is accused of murder in the 2010 death of his ex-girlfriend, UVA lacrosse player Yeardley Love.
Defense attorney Rhonda Quagliana, who was sick Thursday, was not in court again. Defense attorney Fran Lawrence objected to going forward, telling the Judge his client told him, "I don't feel comfortable. I don't feel protected," without Quagliana in court. He did not want to continue, even with witnesses he had prepped. The prosecution told the judge "The commonwealth is being harmed by each passing day." Judge Hogshire ruled the case will go forward.
Lawrence told the court that Quagliana has handled the medical issues since day one. "She is prepared, I am not." Lawrence then called the witnesses he was prepared to present. The first witness was a biomechanical consultant who said he did not find an impact profile on the wallboard from Love's apartment.
Two girls who were at Huguely's apartment one week before Love died testified about a "purse hitting" incident that night. They remember Love was angry and said that she hit Huguely with her purse.
A computer consultant then took the stand to testify about the value of Love's laptop, which was found in a dumpster. He said it was worth between $100 and $150. A short dispute arose over the value of the power cord, but the court eventually clarified the power cord was not taken with the computer.
The final witness Friday morning was Huguely's aunt and godmother who testified she saw Huguely and Love together at a bar, Boylan Heights on the UVA corner, on May 1, 2010 around midnight. She said they were "cordial." A video from inside showed the pair holding hands at two separate times.
The trial then entered a short recess while Lawrence checked on the status of Quagliana's health. When court resumed, Lawrence said his co-council was "projectile vomiting" ill. The case has been continued until 9 a.m. Saturday, but that doesn't mean the day is over.
Court reconvened at 1:00 Friday afternoon to recognize witnesses due to expired subpoenas. The jury had already been dismissed until 9:00 Saturday morning.
Judge Hogshire, defense attorney Lawrence, and Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapman also discussed and reviewed jury instructions for about an hour. They went over a list of instructions including those dealing with intoxication, the difference between murder and manslaughter, and establishing a definition for manslaughter. Judge Hogshire urged the attorneys to move things along and make the necessary edits.
Court adjourned at around 2:00 Friday afternoon. Judge Hogshire stated that the "defense needs to be ready to go tomorrow." Testimonies are scheduled to resume at 9:00 Saturday morning.
Attorney Rhonda Quagliana is required to provide a doctor's note for her illness.
The first witness on day 10 for the defense was Michael Woodhouse, biomechanical consultant. He testified he analyzes the forces and impact on objects. He examined the wallboard from Love's apartment and stated there was "no evidence of impact profile and no indents." He testified that "everything is pretty symmetrical."
Upon cross-examination, Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapman asked if the machine Woodhouse uses does DNA testing on the wall. Woodhouse replied that it does not. Chapman asked if DNA tests were done, if he could differentiate between someone's head and a basketball. Woodhouse said yes.
Alice Billmire, a current UVA student, is now on the stand. She was one of the high school girls inside Huguely's apartment on the Tuesday night before Love's death. Previous testimonies have confirmed she was in town visiting Kate Kamber, a witness in day four in the Huguely trial, and Huguely allowed them to come back to his apartment as a "favor" for Kamber. This was also the night other witnesses testified that Love entered Huguely's apartment "uninvited" and hit him with her purse.
Billmire recalled events in her testimony. She told the court they were "watching a movie" when Love walked in the door. She testified that Huguely told an angry Yeardley Love to leave his apartment. She also said she believes the door to Huguely's apartment was "cracked open" that night and that it was not completely closed.
Caroline Wattenmaker, the other high school girl that was in Huguely's apartment that night, was the next witness. She is a current Vanderbilt student. Wattenmaker also recalled events of that night in her testimony. Wattenmaker said Love was angry when she came through the apartment door and asked Huguely if he had been texting the two girls. She recalled Love walking up to Huguely, who was sitting on the couch, and the pair "yelling at each other." Wattenmaker testified she saw Love hit him with her purse, after which Huguely got up, backed away, and asked Love to leave. Wattenmaker said she and Billmire left with Kamber shortly after.
Ben Thomas, a computer consultant, was the next witness. He stated that he works in computer sales and support and assesses product values. During questioning, he explained Love's computer had a fair market value of approximately $100 - $150 in May 2010. He says the processor was "less stable, less popular and less expensive" than most other ones. Thomas told the court their company was first relayed the case from a private investigator.
On cross-examination, the prosecution asked how much he was compensated. Thomas confirmed he is billing approximately $187.50 per hour for five hours of work. Chapman then asked how the value of the computer would change with the power supply included. Thomas said he was not aware of the power supply from pictures. The defense objected saying, "the power supply was not appraised by the experts." The court then clarified that Huguely only took the computer and not the power cord on the night of Love's death. The prosecution was asking about a hypothetical increase in value if the power cord was taken into account for the assessment of the computer.
Huguely's aunt and godmother, Alina Massaro, testified next. She testified that she saw Huguely and Love at Boylan Heights UVA Corner around midnight May 1, 2010, about a day before Love's death. She said they seemed "cordial with each other." Massaro testified she stayed to talk with Love when Huguely left the room with his mother, and they had a pleasant conversation.
A surveillance video from that night was then played in the courtroom, and Massaro identified the people present. She pointed out that "Georgie" and Love were "holding hands." In a short cross-examination, Huguely's aunt told the prosecution UVA lacrosse players and parents were present at this event. She also confirmed her 17- and 18-year-old daughters were in attendance and interacting with Love.
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