Opening statements made in college lacrosse player's murder trial

George Huguely arrives at court Wednesday in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Story highlights

  • Jurors hear differing accounts of Virginia student's 2010 death
  • Prosecution contends defendant fatally injured Yeardley Love during a fight
  • George Huguely's defense calls the death an accident
  • The suspect and victim were members of UVA's highly ranked lacrosse teams
Jurors at the trial of a University of Virginia lacrosse player accused of fatally beating his ex-girlfriend were asked by a defense attorney Wednesday to consider only an involuntary manslaughter conviction.
Attorney Francis Lawrence, in his opening statement, contended that would be appropriate because the death was an accident. George Huguely currently faces charges including first-degree murder in the death of Yeardley Love, who also was a lacrosse player for the university.
University of Virginia law professor Darryl Brown told InSession that involuntary manslaughter in the state carries a maximum 10-year sentence. Huguely has been held for two years.
But prosecutors, in their opening statement, said Huguely made an e-mail threat against Love, 22, before her May 2010 death.
Prosecutor Warner D. Chapman read e-mails exchanged between the two after Huguely learned Love had allegedly slept with someone else.
The defendant wrote, "I should have killed you" and Love responded, "You should have killed me?" according to Chapman. Huguely responded that the pair should talk, Chapman said.
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UVA's lacrosse murder trial
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Chapman also told jurors Love's death was slow and painful and that she could have remained alive for a couple of hours after Huguely left her apartment. The defense also claims Love was alive when Huguely left.
Charlottesville Police Detective Lisa Reeves wrote in a sworn statement used to obtain a search warrant in the case that "George Huguely admitted on May 3, 2010, that he was involved in an altercation with Yeardley Love and that during the course of the altercation he shook Love and her head repeatedly hit the wall."
But defense attorney Lawrence said there was no evidence that Love's head hit a wall.
Lawrence said Huguely refused to believe Love was dead when questioned by police.
Police were initially called to Love's off-campus Charlottesville apartment by a roommate who reported "a possible alcohol overdose," Police Chief Tim Longo said at the time. "It was quickly apparent to them this young lady was the victim of something far worse," Longo said.
A medical examiner ruled that blunt force trauma killed Love, and authorities allege Huguely caused it during the altercation.
Love had "a large bruise on the right side of her face which appears to have been caused by blunt force trauma," according to the police sworn statement.
Huguely admitted he kicked open the door to Love's bedroom after he found her apartment door unlocked, according to the detective's affidavit. He also admitted he took her computer from her apartment, Reeves wrote. It was later found by police after Huguely told them where he disposed of it, she said.
The trial is expected to last two weeks.