February 10, 2012
The first week of the George Huguely murder trial came to a close Friday afternoon with more dramatic testimony.
The jury asked for a brief break after a forensic detective described the graphic photos of Yeardley Love's deceased body.
The detective described what Love's face and body looked like when authorities found her on May 3, 2010. He said Love's right eye swollen shut, there was abrasions on her chin and her neck was swollen. A rescue apparatus was still in her mouth from when medical personnel tried to save her life.
The prosecution also introduced the kicked-in door from Love’s bedroom as evidence. It was unwrapped in front of the jury. Other items shown to the jury were Love’s blood-stained pillowcase, top sheet and comforter.
The most riveting testimony in the George Huguely murder trial came from Huguely himself Friday afternoon.
The prosecution played Huguely's video-taped statement to police where he describes his violent encounter with ex-girlfriend Yeardley Love on the night of May 2, 2010. His emotional testimony had Love's mother, sister, a juror and Huguely himself sobbing in the courtroom.
Charlottesville Police Detective Lisa Reeves, who interrogated Huguely, took the stand Friday morning. She said Huguely was "cooperative" the morning she took him from his apartment to the police station.
However, Reeves said Huguely's role in Love's murder quickly changed from "person of interest" to primary suspect because of his bruised knuckles and the fresh cut on his arm.
Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapman then played the taped statement.
In the tape, Huguely says he went over to Love's apartment "to talk to her" Sunday night. He admits to Reeves he had consumed at least 20 drinks that day, beginning at the UVA Lacrosse father/son golf outing at Wintergreen Resort and continuing at various other places throughout the day. "I was the drunkest I've ever been," said Huguely
Huguely says the volatile couple hadn't spoke since Tuesday (Apr. 27, 2010) when Love reportedly burst into Huguely's apartment, confronted him about his relationships with other women and repeatedly hit him with her purse. He told police he was "more emotional than angry" when he went to confront Love, but she was defensive and was "totally freaking out".
Huguely says he told Love, "I'm not here to do anything to you, I'm just here to talk to you." He tells Love, "Yeardley, chill out," and shook her several times while she repeatedly told him to stop.
With the taped statement still playing, Huguely tells police what happened next. "I was holding her and I think that's when her nose started bleeding. That's when I could tell the conversation wasn't going anywhere. That's when she went back to bed and I left."
But Detective Reeves pressed Huguely, who sounded confused on the video tape. He was groggy and continually lost his train of thought. She asks the former lacrosse player how he got into Love's bedroom. Huguely replies, "Actually, it may have been locked. I might have put a hole in the door."
Throughout the police questioning, Huguely continually insists he never struck Love or hit her, but he admitted they had wrestled on the floor. "There was a whole commotion, I may have grabbed her neck, but I never strangled her." Oddly, Huguely describes Love's reaction to this event as "a fish out of water."
As questioning shifted to Love's laptop, Huguely initially tells police he never took anything from her apartment, but he eventually confesses to taking Love's computer because he was angry that she wouldn't talk to him.
Huguely also tells police he never felt it necessary to call 911, saying, "She was just bleeding from the nose. I didn't feel like she needed to go to the emergency room."
That's when the questioning heats up. Detective Reeves' colleague, Detective Ed Pratcher, who was also in the interview room, asks Huguely, "Do you feel like she got deserved?" Huguely adamantly said no, "It wasn't about me getting anything from her, it's about me wanting to talk to her."
For the first time in two days of witness testimony, jurors saw emotion from Huguely. The defendant cried while listening to detectives tell him Love is dead. "She's dead, you killed her," they said.
For the last few moments of the video tape, an emotional George Huguely repeats, "She's not dead! She's not dead! I want to see her! You guys are lying! I didn't murder her!"
Trial Day 5 Preview
Key evidence is set to be revealed Friday, as the George Huguely murder trial wraps up its first week.
Prosecutors have been carrying boxes of evidence in and out of the courtroom throughout the trial, including a large door wrapped in brown paper. It's the door to Yeardley Love's bedroom, which George Huguely allegedly kicked in the night she died.
Jurors will likely see a large hole in that door and hear from the medical examiner. They will also hear from Huguely himself, in a taped statement he made to police after his arrest.
Local defense attorney Scott Goodman, who has no ties to the case, said the prosecution still has a few more days before it's ready to rest its case.
"With the medical examiner being on the stand for quite a long time and the taped statement to be played, police officers will testify to George Huguely's demeanor and all of that will come out. It may take more than one more Commonwealth day," Goodman said. "So I would say Monday at the earliest is when the Commonwealth would rest their case."
We have already heard from Dr. Danny Mistry, the primary care physician for all UVA student-athletes, who testified Thursday that there is no way her Adderall prescription could have played a role in her death. That testimony debunks a key part of Huguely's defense.
The defense could start calling witnesses as early as Monday. One person set to testify on Huguely's behalf, his father, George Huguley Sr.