CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Jurors found a former University of Virginia lacrosse player guilty of second-degree murder Wednesday in the slaying of his ex-girlfriend that was fueled by jealousy over her relationship with another lacrosse player.
Jurors met for nine hours in the trial of George Huguely V, rejecting a verdict of first-degree murder that could have resulted in life in prison in the May 2010 beating death of Yeardley Love.
He also was convicted of grand larceny. The two convictions call for a maximum of 60 years in prison.
Huguely, 24, of Chevy Chase, Md., did not visibly react to the verdict, and there was no overt sign of emotion in the courtroom, which included families of the victim and the defendant.
Jurors who convicted Huguely immediately began hearing testimony in the sentencing phase.
The jury of seven men and five women had to decide whether Huguely battered Love to death in a jealous outburst or if his intent to talk with her spiraled out of control, leaving her bleeding and dying in her bedroom.
The jury heard from nearly 60 witnesses over nine days to determine what happened to Love on the night of May 2, 2010.
That night, the women’s lacrosse player was found face down on her pillow. Her right eye was swollen and bruised, she had marks on her chest that suggested she was grabbed and had injuries around her jaw and inside her mouth and neck. Jurors heard several potentially lethal consequences of such injuries. A coroner concluded the young woman from suburban Baltimore died of blunt force trauma.
In a police interrogation video viewed by jurors, Huguely said he went to Love’s apartment to talk about their sputtering, two-year relationship and she “freaked out” when he broke into her room. Their encounter quickly turned physical, with Huguely admitting he may have shaken her but insisting he didn’t grab her neck or punch her. He also claimed she repeatedly banged her head on the bedroom wall.
A medical expert for the defense testified that Love likely smothered, her face buried in her own blood-dampened pillow. Huguely’s defense team has also suggested Love’s death was the result of drinking and a prescription drug she took for attention-deficit disorder. A coroner said both substances were in her body but not in potentially lethal doses.
The prosecution painted a much more sinister scenario.
Huguely went to her apartment less than one week after he sent her a threatening email about her relationship with a North Carolina lacrosse player.
In the email, Huguely wrote that when he found out about the relationship, “I should have killed you.”
In his closing arguments, defense attorney Francis McQ. Lawrence described Huguely as hulking, hard-drinking jock but no killer. He acknowledged Huguely had an unintended, accidental role in Love’s death, arguing for a finding of involuntary manslaughter and a 10-year prison term.