Huguely Murder Trial: Prosecution Calls First Witnesses

By: NewsStaff Email
By: NewsStaff Email


Legal Analysis

Defense Attorney Scott Goodman visited the Newsplex Wednesday night to discuss the jury selection and opening statements for the George Huguely murder trial.

Goodman, who has no ties to the case, says it is important to give the jury different options of charges.

“The Commonwealth's theory is that what you have here is a controlling dominating you man who viciously beat and caused the killing of his girlfriend, the defense on the other hand wants to point out and will use every opportunity to say this is a college kid, these are two people involved in a relationship that had ups and downs,” said Goodman.

Goodman expects the defense to use medical evidence that says something other than an assault could have killed Yeardley Love.


February 8, 2012

Evening update

The third day of the George Huguely murder trial was adjourned Wednesday night after four hours of witness testimony.

A Charlottesville police officer and former UVa tennis player Philippe Oudshoorn were the last to testify.

Oudshoorn and Yeardley Love's former roommate, Caitlin Whiteley, found Love lying in a pool of blood on May 3, 2010.

Oudshoorn spoke about how he called 911, and the call was dropped, but he called back immediately. The 911 dispatcher instructed Oudshoorn to check if Love had a pulse. Oudshoorn says Love didn't.

Oudshoorn then began to preform CPR on Love at the instructions of the 911 dispatcher. Soon thereafter, he said either emergency responders or Charlottesville police officers arrived at the scene.

One of those police officers testified how he quickly determined he had come upon a crime scene after arriving at Love's apartment.

Afternoon update

The prosecution called its first witnesses Wednesday afternoon in the George Huguely murder trial.

Yeardley Love's mother, Sharon Love, was the first witness called by Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapman. She testified that Yeardley was "visibly shaken" when she came home in the weeks before her death. She didn't elaborate as to why her daughter was so upset.

In later testimony, it was determined that Love had been in an altercation with Huguely where he put her in a chokehold. The fight had been over Love's relationship with another man, Mike Burns.

Burns, who played men's lacrosse at the University of North Carolina at the time, will testify for the prosecution in the coming days.

The prosecution's second witness was Love's sister, Lexie. She talked about the emotional pain of police telling her family that Yeardley was dead. She recalled traveling to Charlottesville from her Baltimore-area home to help arrange Love's items to be packed up and moved from her 14th Street apartment.

Huguely sat quietly as his ex-girlfriend's sister and mother delivered their testimony. Meanwhile, Love's family and friends were seen sobbing in the courtroom.

Next to take the stand was Love's downstairs neighbor, Anna Lehmann. She testified that she heard a "loud, out-of-the-normal sound" from the apartment above her, followed by the sound of someone stomping down the stairs. The prosecution has argued that loud noise was Huguely kicking in Love's door.

Lehmann told the court she looked outside and saw a stocky, 6-foot tall man with brown hair and a royal blue t-shirt leaving the apartment complex. The prosecution has said Huguely left Love's apartment with her laptop in hand, however Lehmann testified she could not see if the man was carrying anything.

On cross-examination, defense attorney Fran Lawrence questioned whether Lehmann could pinpoint exactly where the upstairs thump came from.

Caity Whiteley took the stand next. She described her former roommate's relationship with her accused killer as "rocky" in the spring of 2010. She said the relationship was at its strongest a year prior.

Whiteley testified that Love had some sort of relationship with a player on the University of North Carolina men's lacrosse team. She said Huguely wrote "I should have killed you" in an email to Love after finding out about the alleged relationship.

In her testimony, Whiteley also said Love found out about an alleged relationship between Huguely and other woman in the spring of 2010. She told the court about an incident where Huguely allegedly choked Love after he found out she told others about it.

Love's roommate then talked about finding her body in the early morning hours of May 3, 2010. Whiteley said she and friends moved Love's body from her bed to the floor. She described Love's face and eyes as "all messed up".

During cross-examination, defense attorney Fran Lawrence asked Whiteley what Love had to drink the night of May 2, 2010. She answered that Love was drunk but was not out of control.

Morning Update

After a 14-person jury was selected early Wednesday morning, opening statements began around 11 a.m. in Charlottesville Circuit Court.

Before Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapman addressed the court, witnesses for both sides were asked to stand up and be identified. Among them were Lexie and Sharon Love, Yeardley's sister and mother, respectively, George Huguely Sr., the defendant's father, and several of Love's friends.

Witnesses were then asked to leave the courtroom for opening statements, although Judge Edward Hogshire allowed Lexie and Sharon Love to remain inside.

[Follow @CBS19Huguely for Comprehensive Trial Updates]

Chapman began his opening statement by reminding the jury of their duties to be unbiased while sorting through disputed accounts presented in evidence. He then told them his team will present fragments of emails Huguely sent to Love in which he wrote, "I should have killed you".

Chapman then explained that Love's downstairs neighbor, Anna Lehmann, will testify about what she witnessed on the night of May 2, 2010. He said Lehmann will testify that she was on her computer at 9:45 p.m. when she heard a "crash and bang" upstairs that sounded like a door being kicked in.

Chapman said Lehmann will testify that she then heard what sounded like running and saw what she will describe as a stout, 6-foot tall man in royal blue shirt leaving Love's apartment with a computer. That would corroborate police reports that Huguely stole Love's laptop.

According to search warrants released in July 2010, a blue UVA polo shirt was taken from Huguely's 14th Street apartment. Witnesses also told police they noticed him walking through the courtyard near Love's 14th Street apartment wearing a blue shirt.

Defense attorney Fran Lawrence began his opening statement by saying Love's death was a "perfect storm of terrible, terrible, terrible coincidences" and a "shattering tragedy". He told the jury both Love and Huguely were unfaithful in their relationship, saying both were "hooking up with other people, which caused drama".

Lawrence said much of the facts in the case are not disputable, however what the facts mean and what the jurors see them as will be key. In that same vein, Lawrence told the jury Huguely did not intend to kill Love and only went over to her apartment to "talk with her".

Huguely's lawyer argued the only charge the jury should consider is involuntary manslaughter, not the first-degree murder charge his client is facing.

Lawrence explained he will question how much force was actually required to kill Love based on the effects the medication she was taking had on her heart.

He added that the evidence could suggest positional asphyxia, a situation where someone's position prevents them from breathing - in Love case, face down on her bed - caused the lacrosse player's death instead of the medical examiner's determination of blunt force trauma.

There was a break for lunch after opening statements. When the trial resumes, the prosecution will call its first witnesses.

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