Huguely Found Guilty of Second-Degree Murder, Grand Larceny
George Huguely has been found guilty of second-degree murder and grand larceny. The jury recommended that he spends 26 years in prison.
A verdict is in for George Huguely, the former UVA lacrosse player on trial for the death of his ex-girlfriend Yeardley Love in May 2010.
Huguely has been found guilty of second-degree murder, a downgrade from the first-degree murder charge he was arrested on. He has also been found guilty of grand larceny for the theft of Yeardley Love's computer.
Huguely has been found not guilty of robbery, breaking and entering with intent to commit assault and battery and breaking and entering with intent to commit larceny.
The jury deliberated for just under nine hours. During that time, they asked two questions about their instructions.
Huguely made the sign of the cross before the jury's verdict came in shortly after 6:30 p.m., but the verdict did not cause an emotional scene in the courtroom.
Emotional testimony came from victim Yeardley Love's sister Lexie. She broke down on the stand, saying everything reminds her of her sister. Yeardley's mother Sharon told the jury, "It never goes away. You just have to pick yourself up and do the best you can. Do the best for Yeardley."
Huguely was seen with his head down, shedding silent tears during the sentencing testimony.
The defense did not call any sentencing witnesses.
After the sentencing witness testimonies, Judge Hogshire gave the jury sentencing recommendation guidelines. Chapman also approached the jury with more in-depth explanation of these guidelines.
The commonwealth's attorney then proceeded to tell jury about Huguely's last run-in with the law in the Lexington & Rockbridge court. Huguely was arrested in 2009 for resisting arrest.
Chapman also read parts of a letter Huguely wrote to Love. In it Huguely had written, "Alcohol ruined my life…I'm scared to know I can get to the point where I was." Chapman said to jury that they could "see in the evidence the horror that she went through" and that they knew she laid there for a period of at least two hours.
Chapman stated, "Somebody's little girl didn't wake up, and it was the result of criminal behavior." Before he knew his fate, Huguely faced a maximum of 60 years in prison between the two charges. He would be 84-years-old when he got out.
Chapman told jury members Huguely "can get through the rest of his life knowing where his family is and what they are doing" and added "he may have to keep up with them from a penitentiary but at least he can share that with them".
Huguely's defense attorney Rhonda Quagliana began her statement by repeating what Huguely said to police in May 2010 - "I never should have gone over there that drunk." Quagliana then said, in reference to Huguely's drinking, "It is not an excuse, not a justification, just a fact." She stated "no person is the sum of the worst judgment he has ever made."
Quagliana said he was immersed in sports, sex and alcohol and he lacked maturity. She stated that the letter that Chapman gave as evidence again Huguely shows "seeds of redemption" and he was basically a product of his atmosphere.
Quagliana said to the jury that they had to balance the "loss of life against the reality that no decision you make will bring her back." She told the jury to consider a range of punishment, saying there were "degrees of accountability, even if the actions result in someone's death"
Quagliana finished her statement by reminding jury of Huguely's plea to police in May 2010 - "she's not dead, she's not dead, please tell me she's not dead."
The jury began deliberations on a sentencing recommendation at around 8:00 Wednesday night. After around two hours of deliberation, the jury recommended 25 years in prison for second-degree murder and one year for grand larceny.
Huguely will have a hearing on April 16, 2012. That is when his sentencing date will be finalized. Sentencing likely in the summer of 2012.
Post Trial News Conference Statements:
Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapman:
We appreciate greatly the work of the jurors in this case. It's a good diverse group of Charlottesville citizens who've worked very hard and we appreciate their contribution. There's nothing that we can say that will make good the terrible and tragic loss to the Love family. There are no winners in this case. There's nothing but loss everywhere. Our hearts go out to the Love family. They've suffered enormously. They cannot have been more attentive, appreciative, and helpful throughout the process of preparing and presenting the case. What we do in court is a very rough approximation of justice in any given case. We hope that they feel some solace from the outcome that's been achieved here today.
Defense Attorney Fran Lawrence:
We are, of course, disappointed with the verdict. But we've been proud to represent George and his fight for fairness over the last couple of years. He has the support of a loving family, he's displayed amazing resilience and courage, he's hopeful, he's spiritual and we look forward to some corrections in what happened here tonight. Those who were in the courtroom saw his remorse during various times during the trial.
Sentencing Witness Testimony:
Sharon Love was the first to testify as a sentencing witness after the verdicts were read. Sharon said that when the police came to her house in Maryland at 6 a.m. on May 3, 2010 she thought, "They were going to tell me my dog was barking." Sharon became emotional as she recalled when police informed her that her daughter Yeardley was killed that morning.
She came to Charlottesville with her other daughter, Lexie, to recover Yeardley's belongings. Sharon said she tried not to watch TV and that she "was devastated and didn't believe it was true."
Sharon said, "Everything is different. Every single day is different."
Commonwealth Attorney Dave Chapman asked Sharon about the psychological impact of Yeardley's death. Sharon said she would see Yeardley's friends come into a room and expect her daughter would come in after them - "but she never did." Sharon started breaking down at this point in the testimony.
Sharon stated, "I still talk to her every single day." Sharon then started talking about "everything she hoped for, everything she worked for, despite her father's death." Sharon then continued talking about Yeardley getting into UVA, how well her daughter did in school, and how she was sad everything Yeardley worked for was gone.
Sharon stated that every year that goes by she wonders what Yeardley would have been like and what she would be doing. She talked about celebrating holidays after Yeardley's death - "on her birthday, we have friends over to remember her. Christmas is a nightmare."
Sharon shared she would look forward to her daughter's weddings, the thought of grandchildren, and just "looking forward to life." She then cried heavily while expressing "everyday I'm afraid that I am forgetting little pieces about her."
Jury members wiped away tears during Sharon Love's testimony. Before Sharon stepped off the stand, she said, "It never goes away. You just have to pick yourself up & do the best you can. Do the best for Yeardley."
Tissues were passed around the jury between the two testimonies. Huguely kept his head down and wiped away tears during Sharon's testimony.
Lexie Love, Yeardley's sister, was the prosecution's second sentencing witness. She recalls learning of Yeardley's death and said she "didn't believe it. I went into shock. I didn't think it was real. I thought it had to be someone else."
Lexie then talked about coming to Charlottesville to retrieve Yeardley's belongings saying, "It was just a blur, but you have to put your game face on." Lexie then broke down stating that "everything" reminds her of Yeardley - "Her bedroom. We shared a bathroom. The dog." Lexie also said that she cries whenever she hears certain songs on the radio.
When Chapman asked about the psychological impact of Yeardley's death, Lexie said, "It will creep up out of nowhere and will take you down." She then went on to say, "It physically hurts, it's hard to explain it.
Lexie also testified about future plans she and Yeardley would talk about - topics like making sure to take care of their mom and making sure their kids would get along. Lexie said, "I keep everyone together… and keep everyone close."
When Chapman asks again how Yeardley's death affected her, Lexie said, "It tears my heart. There's nothing you can do but be there for her." Before Lexie stepped off the witness stand, she told the courtroom "the absolute worst thing that could've happened…happened."
2/22/2012 - Press Statement from the Love Family:
We dread looking back on the events of May 3, 2010 and pray for the strength to get through each day. Time has not made us miss Yeardley any less, in fact quite the opposite. It is truly devastating to wake up each day and realize that she is no longer here. Yeardley's contagious smile, kind spirit and gentle touch have left this world but we know that heaven has an angel like no other. We will continue to keep her spirit alive by performing works of kindness is her name. We would like to thank the Commonwealth and particularly Dave Chapman for his tireless efforts on our behalf.
Our hearts burst with pride when we think of Yeardley's accomplishments but our hearts melt when we remember her kindness and grace. We have received letters from so many people telling us stories of her many acts of kindness. Intelligence and athletic ability are God given talents. Kindness and compassion are choices... Choices that Yeardley made every day without a second thought. We'd like to thank everyone for their kindness and respect of our privacy during such a difficult time.
Sharon & Lexie Love
University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan's Statement
Prior to the trial of George Huguely, I said the University would withhold any comments until the trial had concluded. The jury now has rendered its verdict and a young man – a former member of our community – has been found guilty for the death of fellow student Yeardley Love.
As Professor Anne Coughlin reminded us on Feb. 2, the conclusion of a trial like this may bring a momentary sense of justice or retribution, but our judicial system can never restore to a family what it has lost. Yeardley's family, teammates, sorority sisters and friends – indeed all of us at the University – continue to feel the loss of this promising young woman. It remains now to each of us to commit to caring for one another and, when we see someone in trouble, to having the courage to intercede and offer assistance.
Our sympathy and compassion go to the Love family, as well as to the Huguely family, as they face the future and their personal grief.
Teresa A. Sullivan, University of Virginia president