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Huguely Had No Intent To Kill, Defense Argues

In closing statements, defense angles for involuntary manslaughter; prosecution asks for felony murder.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA -- In a 2010 message read aloud in court Saturday, George Huguely apologized to Yeardley Love for an incident that year during which prosecutors say he held her in a chokehold, leaving her visibly upset.

“I can’t describe how sorry I am,” said the message, read by prosecutor Dave Chapman during his closing statement.

“I’m scared to know I can get that drunk to the point I can’t control how I behave. I will never act as I did that night.”

Huguely, 24, of Chevy Chase, is standing trial for the murder of Love, his ex-girlfriend, of Cockeysville. Both played lacrosse at the University of Virginia.

Prosecutors have said Huguely shook Love until her head banged against a wall at her off-campus Charlottesville apartment.

In his closing, Chapman painted a picture of a man fueled by his wild drinking habits who harbored resentment for Love after he felt she spurned him. He once wrote to her, “I should have killed you,” he said.

On Saturday, Huguely’s defense argued that he never intended to kill Love— rather, he went to Love’s apartment in the early morning hours of May 3, 2010, to talk, make up, and work things out with his on-again, off-again girlfriend.

Both the defense and the prosecution rested their cases here following nearly two weeks of testimony. Huguely, dressed in a blue blazer, waived his right to testify just before a lunch recess Saturday.

After a short consultation behind closed doors Saturday evening, the jury decided to return Wednesday at 9 a.m. to begin deliberations, the next day the court is available to hear the case.

When under the influence of alcohol, Huguely can behave “aggressively and with callous disregard for the consequences,” Chapman said, referencing the chokehold incident.

Huguely kicked a hole in Love’s door the night of her death and tackled Love, Chapman said, who was “taken to the floor by a six-foot-plus, emotional, inebriated man." The more than 20 injuries to Love’s body showed the violence of the assault, Chapman said.

Huguely incapacitated Love quickly, Chapman said. When Huguely left the apartment after placing Love in her bed face-down and stealing her laptop, she was alive, but unable to call for help, Chapman said.

“You don't have to be able to move to scream, you just have to be conscious,” Chapman told jurors.

He reiterated the Commonwealth’s position that Love died of blunt force trauma to the head, countering the defense's assertion that she suffocated in a bloody pillow.

Love was attacked as she was in her bed, Chapman said, which "should be the safest, most secure location in her life."

“Yeardley is never going to speak and say what happened to her,” Chapman said, audibly choked up.  “The evidence in this case tells you what happened to her.”

Chapman asked the jury to find Huguely guilty of felony murder in the commission of a robbery, which carries a sentence of up to 40 years in prison.

Huguely faces six charges in total.

Huguely’s intent that night was central to closing arguments. Though the jury would have to agree that Huguely planned the killing to be guilty of first-degree, premeditated murder, he could be found guilty of felony murder or second-degree murder without the jurors believing it was premediated, Chapman said.

“George contributed to her death, but no, he didn't kill her,” Huguely’s defense attorney Francis McQ. Lawrence told the jury during his closing statements.

Repeatedly, Lawrence argued that while Huguely bears responsibility for Love’s death, there was “no intent” behind his actions.  The stealing of her laptop was not premeditated either, he said – it was an “afterthought” following the crime.

In order to be found guilty of felony murder, the jury must agree Huguely intended on robbing or assaulting Love that night, and that he committed a felony as "part of the same criminal transaction" as the actions that led to her death.

Huguely didn’t intend to kill Love, Lawrence said, because she was still alive when he left the apartment. Huguely may not have noticed Love’s injuries as he left, he added.

Lawrence described the relationship between Huguely and Love as a volatile, on-again, off-again romance. Huguely went to the apartment to try to “work things out” with Love, he said, a meeting that began with a conversation and ended with an altercation.

In his rebuttal, Chapman countered that Huguely kicked in Love’s door. “What kind of conversation starter is that?” Chapman said. “It’s the beginning of terror, ladies and gentleman. It’s terrifying. It’s unimaginable to think what that woman went through.”

The defense asked the jury to consider finding Huguely guilty of involuntary manslaughter, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

For more information on court proceedings Saturday, read Patch’s live blog.

This post has been updated.

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