Huguely Trial: Coroner Details Alcohol, Drugs in Love's System

By: NewsStaff Email
By: NewsStaff Email

Legal Analysis

Defense Attorney Scott Goodman visited the Newsplex Tuesday night, to discuss what we can expect the defense to present during the George Huguely murder trial.

Goodman, who has no ties to the case, says the defense will use much of the evidence the Commonwealth used.

" I don't think the evidence put on by the Commonwealth Tuesday has greatly worried the defense," said Goodman.

Goodman says he doubts the defense will make George Huguely take the stand.

"I think the defense will leave well enough alone. They already have his taped video statement in evidence giving his account," said Goodman.

Goodman says if George Huguely took the stand it would subject him to cross-examination.

February 14, 2012

Evening Update

Forensics testimony continued into the evening on Day 7 of the George Huguely murder trial.

Angela Rainey was called as the prosecution's last witness of the day, answering questions about DNA found on Yeardley Love, Huguely and items collected from both of their apartments.

Rainey said she found Huguely's DNA underneath Love's right fingernails. In addition, Love's DNA was found from scrapings of Huguely's right hand.

However, Rainey said the red stains on Huguely's shower curtain, shower drain and on Love's bathroom towels were not blood. The forensics scientist also could not determine whose DNA was on the crushed beer can found in Love's trash.

Rainey said there was a spot of blood found on a pair of shorts collected from Huguely's apartment. She said there was a mixture of DNA on those shorts - Huguely's and another person's. Although, the amount was so small she could not determine if the DNA was from Love or someone else.

The prosecution is likely to wrap its case on Wednesday. Since the prosecution took longer than expected, court is likely to be in session on Saturday.

Afternoon Update

It has been a full day of medical testimony in the George Huguely murder trial. Prosecutors called multiple medical experts Tuesday afternoon to explain how Yeardley Love died.

First to take the stand was Dr. Beatriz Lopes, the Director of Neuropathology at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. She testified that Love's brain was more reddish in color than normal. She also discovered excess swelling and fluid that caused Love's brain to weigh 200 grams more than normal (1,400 grams compared to 1,200 grams).

Referring to the fluid and blood in the brain stem, Dr. Lopes said, "those injuries can cause the patient to have cardiac arrest and start to breath slowly." She told the court that in her opinion Love died from lack of oxygen to the brain resulting from "traumatic lesions" caused by blunt force injuries.

During cross-examination Dr. Lopes said Love's brain injuries were consistent with someone who died approximately two hours after the initial trauma. In her opinion, the injuries could not have been caused by CPR, but she was unable to answer the defense's questions on how much trauma would be necessary to cause those injuries.

Defense attorneys have suggested Love's death could have been related to prescription medicine she took for attention deficit disorder, however the prosecution re-called the doctor who performed the autopsy on Love's body to rebut that argument.

Dr. Michael Gormley testified that while Love did have alcohol and prescription drugs in her system at the time of her death, they were not in lethal amounts. He said that Love's Blood Alcohol Level was 0.14, but concluded that she died from cardiac arrhythmia (an irregular heartbeat) from blunt force injuries to her brain.

A forensic toxicologist who examined Love's body also testified that she had the suggested medical amount of Adderall in her system, which was not enough to cause unwanted side effects.

Morning Update

The doctor who examined Yeardley Love's brain during the autopsy on the slain lacrosse player's body was on the witness stand for more than two hours Tuesday morning.

Dr. Christine Fuller, a neuropathologist at the VCU Medical Center in Richmond, testified that Love suffered brain injuries as a result of blunt force trauma.

She said the exterior of Love's brain seemed normal, but she found bruising and a potentially lethal injury upon examining her brain. That contusion, Dr. Fuller testified, was caused by blunt force trauma.

Dr. Fuller continued her testimony, saying hemorrhages found inside Love's brain could have resulted from her head hitting a wall. She said broken blood vessels, which require more force than bruising, were caused by twisting or whipping of the brain.

As Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapman continued his questioning, Dr. Fuller told the court hemorrhages at the back and side of Love's brain were from trauma. "It's trauma. Period," she said.

The doctor's testimony is intended to rebut George Huguely's claims that he was physical with Love but did not kill her. Chapman is trying to convince jurors that Huguely repeatedly banged her head against a wall.

Huguely's attorney, Fran Lawrence, has suggested her use of a prescription drug, Adderall, for attention-deficit disorder could have caused her death.

The prosecution is expected to rest its case sometime Tuesday. Although, before George Huguely's attorneys call their first witness, they're expected to ask the judge to drop some charges.

Huguely is charged with first-degree murder in the death of ex-girlfriend Yeardley Love, but that could all change after Tuesday's session in Charlottesville Circuit Court.

In the first week of the trial, jurors heard testimony from several forensic specialists and detectives investigating the case. They have seen pictures of Love's blood-stained bedding and images of her body from the medical examiner. Jurors have also heard from Huguely himself, in the form of a video-taped statement given to police hours after Love's body was found.

The defense is expected to argue the Commonwealth hasn't shown enough evidence to convict Huguely of first-degree murder. Scott Goodman, a local defense attorney who is unaffiliated with this case, says attorneys could ask the judge to lower the charge on Tuesday.

"If they could get rid of the first-degree murder count, that would be huge for them. That's what they will argue after the Commonwealth rests its case. The Commonwealth will make its arguments and the judge will decide at that stage on what counts the case would go forward. Then the defense will begin calling its evidence," Goodman said.

If Huguely were to be convicted of a different charge, for example involuntary manslaughter, he would face a maximum sentence of ten years in prison.

The trial is scheduled to last two weeks, meaning it would wrap up on Friday, however it's looking like court will be held on Saturday, and could even go into next week.

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