On Tuesday, the Appeals Court of Virginia upheld a February 2012 jury verdict that found former UVA lacrosse player George W. Huguely guilty in the murder of his estranged girlfriend, Yeardley Love, also a UVA lacrosse player on the women’s team.
The murder of the beautiful student-athlete weeks from graduation ignited national outrage and attention on the cover of People magazine. Love was brutally attacked while she slept. A second-degree murder conviction resulted in a 23-year sentence for Huguely.
Huguely had a long history of alcohol and physical abuse prior to killing Love. On February 27, 2010, just a few months before the murder, Huguely was accused of choking Love, for which he later apologized in a letter, saying, “I’m scared to know that I can get that drunk to that point where I cannot control the way I behave or act.” Huguely’s letter to Love also stated, “I’m horrified to think that I was using physical force to keep you in my room. I’m so sorry.”Other emails uncovered during the investigation are even more ominous, as their relationship grew more contentious. After a series of emails Huguely wrote, “That is so so f***ed up on so many levels. I should have killed you.”
According to the evidence presented, Huguely had been drinking all day on May 2, 2010, even interrupting a dinner event where he was escorted out for inappropriate behavior. At about midnight that evening, Huguely went to Love’s apartment where she slept, kicked down her bedroom door, and beat her to death.
A key component of Huguely’s appeal centered around the claim that “[t]he circuit court violated Mr. Huguely’s right to counsel under the Sixth Amendment and the Virginia Constitution by forcing him to proceed with trial in the absence of his retained counsel of choice.” This was a result of an illness that prevented one of his attorneys from appearing in court to represent him.Judge Randolph A. Beales found Tuesday that Huguely was not erroneously deprived of his Sixth Amendment right stating that “we hold that the trial judge’s decision to proceed with the examination of defense witnesses by Mr. Lawrence on February 17, 2012 must be affirmed because it was supported by the record on appeal.”
Yeardley Love’s mother Sharon, and other family members set up the One Love Foundation after Yeardley’s death to raise awareness and educate the public to the dangers of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). According to data compiled by One Love Foundation from the Center for Disease Control, IPV results in an estimated 1,200 deaths per year.
Sharon and Lexie Love reacted to yesterday’s decision, “We would like to thank everyone who has supported us throughout this entire process. We are relieved and ready to put this chapter behind us so that we can devote our full efforts toward building The One Love Foundation, and continue to raise awareness about Relationship Violence.”