George Wesley Huguely V, the man convicted of second-degree murder for the 2010 killing his girlfriend Yeardley Love, has appealed. He had been sentenced to 23 years in prison.
The defense argued that there was evidence showing that the jury was confused about the word “malice” for the purposes of distinguishing between second-degree murder and manslaughter, and jurors consulted with a dictionary, which was a “a flagrant violation of the constitutional rule prohibiting external influences on the jury.”
Attorney Bryan K. Weir also threw the defendant’s trial team under the bus.
“Mr. Huguely’s trial counsel also severely prejudiced his defense through their deficient performance,” he wrote in an April 29 filing. “Due to counsel’s violation of the rule on witnesses, the trial court excluded critical expert testimony that the defense needed to rebut the prosecution’s evidence regarding the cause of Ms. Love’s death. And trial counsel failed to call another expert witness whose testimony was needed to bolster the defense’s theory of the cause of death and respond to the prosecution’s evidence.”
There’s no dispute that Love was found dead in her bedroom after she and her boyfriend Huguely had an argument in 2010. The defense continues to maintain the couple only “briefly wrestled” during an altercation, but this didn’t cause her death. She’d sustained minor external injuries consistent with from falling from her bed, and she probably died from “positional asphyxia (accidental smothering)” from sleeping face down on a wet pillow, they argued. They described her as “heavily intoxicated.”
A doctor who performed the autopsy, however, testified at the 2012 trial that Love’s brain injuries were consistent with blunt force trauma that caused cardiac arrhythmia and hindered the blood flow to her heart.
The relationship between Huguely and Love–both lacrosse players at the University of Virginia–was allegedly rocky and violent. In February 2010, he allegedly choked her during a party celebrating victories by the men’s and women’s teams, according to The Baltimore Sun. Three lacrosse players from the University of North Carolina pried him off.
A 2009 story–well known by the school, teammates on the men’s team and even a local tavern bartender–involved Huguely attacking a teammate in that person’s sleep because Huguely believed this teammate had kissed Love while walking her home from a party.
At trial, the prosecution presented emails preceding Love’s murder.
“I should have killed you,” Huguely wrote in one.
The defendant did not testify, but jurors heard video in which he spoke to police. He admitted to shaking Love during their argument, and wrestling her to the floor, but he denied hitting her. Huguely maintained that he told her to go to bed, and he left. The defendant also admitted to kicking a hole in her door. He also stole her laptop and threw it in a dumpster.
Huguely was convicted of grand larceny for the laptop theft. His defense is not challenging this.
[Screengrab via ABC News]
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