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Huguely Trial: Explaining the Possible Outcomes

By: Carter Johnson Email
By: Carter Johnson Email

February 20, 2012

After nearly two weeks of testimony, George Huguely's fate is now in the hands of a 12-person jury. The former University of Virginia lacrosse player is accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend, Yeardley Love, in May 2010.

The 24-year-old faces six charges in connection to Love's death. They are:

- First-degree murder
- Felony murder (murder in the commission of a robbery)
- Robbery
- Burglary
- Grand larceny
- Breaking and entering

The jury has five options regarding the murder charge:

1) Guilty of first-degree murder - a premeditated killing
2) Guilty of second-degree murder - not premeditated, but is murder with malice
3) Guilty of voluntary manslaughter - intentional killing in the heat of passion
4) Guilty of involuntary manslaughter - an accidental killing with reckless conduct and disregard for life
5) Not guilty

If the jury does not believe Love's death was a premeditated killing, there is another way they could find Huguely guilty of first-degree murder. In Virginia, a murder taking place during a felony robbery is considered first-degree murder.

In this case, the robbery becomes a felony if Love's computer, which Huguely allegedly stole from her room, is valued at more than $200. Therefore, if the jury finds him guilty of robbery he would also face the first-degree murder conviction.

Huguely's defense team has argued for some form of manslaughter.

"The defense explained its theory that this was not an intentional killing in the case of involuntary manslaughter, but a concession that there was violence and that there was conduct that could be construed as showing reckless regard of human life," said local defense attorney Scott Goodman.

Ultimately, the jury's decision on the form of the killing will determine Huguely's jail sentence. A first-degree murder conviction carries a possible sentence of 20 years to life in prison, while second-degree murder is 5-40 years and manslaughter is up to 10 years.

After the jury reaches a verdict, the sentencing process will begin with a separate hearing.

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