George Huguely murder trial evidence displayed

Former UVA student murdered girlfriend Yeardley Love

May 15, 2012|By Tricia Bishop, The Baltimore Sun

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — — George Huguely V sits in the corner of a narrow, white room, at the end of a long wooden table, looking every bit the college athlete who just rolled out of bed after a normal night out — but for the bloody scratches ringing his right ankle.

Hours earlier, he had used that leg to drunkenly kick in his girlfriend's bedroom door, he tells Charlottesville detectives, during a 64-minute recorded interrogation into the fatal beating of Cockeysville native Yeardley Love.

The public got its first look at the video Tuesday, two years after it was made, on the morning of May 3, 2010, and nearly three months after Huguely was convicted of second-degree murder in Love's death at her University of Virginia off-campus apartment. Since then, Huguely, now 24, has been sued by Love's mother and held in jail, awaiting his sentencing Aug. 30.

The recording was shown to a small group of people — mostly, if not all, members of the news media — in a quiet, darkened courtroom. It was accompanied by an hourlong slide show of electronic exchanges between the couple and others, forensic reports, and roughly 200 photos from the crime scene.

The images showed a mix of Love's personal items — including snapshots of her smiling broadly next to big sister Lexie — with police pictures of blood spilled throughout her room, making for a macabre memorial.

News outlets complained during Huguely's trial in February that much of the evidence was shown only to jurors and lobbied for public access, which was granted on a limited basis Tuesday. Photos were shown for five seconds, diagrams for 10, and a single minute was allotted for document pages, whether they held hundreds of words or just a couple of dozen. "Sensitive" materials, such as autopsy photos, were withheld.

Unlike the trial, where TV cameras lined the streets and reporters fought for seats in a packed courtroom, Tuesday's turnout was relatively sparse. While Huguely's case and Love's death received national coverage, raising awareness about domestic violence and alcohol abuse in college, the incident is, for some, yesterday's news.

About two dozen people came Tuesday to quietly view the evidence, which was shown on a television screen. It was the first time onlookers could see, rather than just hear, Huguely's interaction with police, which was played during his trial.

Wearing flips flops, shorts and a concert T-shirt, he comes across as boyish, indignant and forthright, animatedly recounting the volatile relationship between himself and Love, his girlfriend of more than two years.

He doesn't appear to know that Love, 22, is dead.

Huguely, who's from Chevy Chase, talks with his hands in the video, waving his fists to demonstrate Love hitting him a week earlier. He shakes his whole body to show her fear when he broke into her room the night before, and he throws his head on the table after detectives tell him she didn't survive the confrontation.

Love and Huguely would have graduated later that month had he not gone to her apartment "to talk" about their mutual infidelities and aggressive tantrums. Instead, her life is over and his is forever changed.

Huguely tells police he spent May 2, 2010, drinking with his dad and other lacrosse players and their fathers on a golf course. He drank some more at dinner, at home and out at a bar. Then, he says, "I went over to talk to Yeardley," explaining that they recently broke up, but are still hanging out.

He slips into story mode as he talks, like he's telling friends about the whole crazy scene. Love doesn't want to talk to him, and backs herself into a corner, banging her head against the wall, he says. Huguely does the same in the interview room, throwing his own head toward the cinder blocks, but stopping short of impact.

"She was already like freaked out just even seeing me, even seeing me there," Huguely says.

He clenches his fists to show how he clutched her arms to calm her down. He holds his hands to his throat, to illustrate how he may have "grabbed her a little bit by the neck," and he drags a finger down from his left nostril, demonstrating where Love's nose began to bleed.

He speaks in her voice, saying over and over — as she did — "You have to leave." And he says repeatedly that he never hit her, looking the two detectives in the eye as he speaks the words.

Love was sleeping, naked but for a pair of panties, when he broke into her room, according to trial testimony. But Huguely tells police she was in a T-shirt, pausing after he says it and looking toward the wall on his left. It's a sort of telltale move he repeats several times, before correcting a statement.

He does a version of it after he claims that Love's bedroom door was unlocked, then admits it "might have been locked" and that he thinks he "put a hole" in it. He does it again, after being asked if he took anything from Love's apartment, like her laptop.

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