George Huguely (WCAV)
cameras outside the Charlottesville courthouse on Wednesday (via @KristinFisher on Twitter)
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (WUSA) -- Jurors recommended a 26 year sentence for George Huguely V of Chevy Chase after convicting him of second degree murder as well as grand larceny. The jury recommends that Huguely serve 25 years on the murder charge, and one year for grand larceny.
Huguely wept openly, wiping his eyes and staring down at the table. One of his lawyers hugged him, the other touched his back.
The judge went directly into the sentencing phase of the trial. Sharon Love, Yeardley Love's mother, and her sister Lexie Love, both tearfully told the jury about the terrible impact her death has had on their family. Sobbing, Lexie Love said: "When I see pictures of her friends, I keep thinking that she should be in them. But she's not and she never will be."
The Love family did not speak to reporters but issued a written statement.
STATEMENT FROM THE LOVE FAMILY
Only Sharon and Lexie Love testified against Huguely during the sentencing hearing. No defense witnesses were called to testify.
The former UVA lacrosse player faces as much as 60 years in prison for second degree murder and grand larceny. The sentencing guidelines are five-40 years for second degree murder, 0-20 years for the grand larceny charge.
The jurors deliberated just over nine hours before holding the scion of a wealthy DC family responsible for beating his sometime girlfriend Yeardley Love to death. The found him not guilty of first degree premeditated murder, as well as felony murder in the commission of a robbery. They also found him not guilty of robbery, burglary in the nighttime, and breaking and entering.
The prosecutor had argued for first degree murder in the commission of a robbery, but jurors must have concluded that when Huguely stole Love's laptop, it was an afterthought, not one continuous act.
It's been a case that's riveted the nation, bringing scores of satellite trucks and reporters from local affiliates and national networks to this small college town. The case deals with many of society's deepest concerns: teen drinking, dating violence, misbehavior by star athletes, the dissipation of youth brought up to lives of wealth and privilege.
Huguely broke into Yeardley Love's off-campus bedroom late in the evening of May 2, 2010, kicking a big hole in the vinyl door and then opening it from the inside. He was furious that she might have seen another guy.
Huguely told police about a brief struggle, said Love was "defensive" and "aggressive" and that he "might have grabbed her neck a little bit." But he insisted nothing he had done to her could possibly have killed her. He sobbed on the interrogation videotape when detectives told him, "How the f@*$% could she be dead?"
Prosecutor Dave Chapman told jurors the surprise they heard in Huguely's voice is the surprise of a young man who realizes he's just confessed to murder.
Both Huguely and Love were drunk, according to many of their friends. Love's blood alcohol was more than twice the legal limit.
Huguely's lawyers tried to convince jurors that Love died from suffocation, her mouth and nose buried in her blood-soaked pillow. Huguely attorney Fran Lawrence at one point told jurors "Huguely contributed to her death, but he didn't kill her."
The injuries to Yeardley Love's brain, the injuries that allegedly killed her, were fairly subtle, some of them just pinpoint bleeding. But prosecution pathologists testified that they injuries were consistent with "sudden acceleration and deceleration" consistent with the allegation that Huguely slammed her head into a wall or the floor.
The prosecutor repeatedly showed jurors autopsy photos that showed Love's badly battered face and right eye. Chapman said the injury to her eye and to Huguely's hand were consistent with him mashing her face into the carpet so hard that he damage the orbit to her eye and scrapped his hand.
Huguely told detectives he injured his hand in a lacrosse game, but a number of lacrosse players pointed out that they wear gloves during games.