- A judge will schedule a sentencing hearing for George Huguely on April 16
- A jury recommended Huguely be sentenced to 26 years in prison
- The jury convicted Huguely, 24, in the death of his ex-girlfriend, Yeardley Love
A judge is considering a jury recommendation that a former University of Virginia lacrosse player be sentenced up to 26 years in prison for his role in the death of his ex-girlfriend.
A jury returned the recommendation late Wednesday, hours after finding George Huguely, 24, guilty of second-degree murder and grand larceny in the May 2010 death of Yeardley Love.
The case captured national attention with a spotlight shown on the volatile relationship of star athletes Huguely and 22-year-old Love, who both played lacrosse for the university's nationally-ranked teams.
Judge Edward Hogshire is expected to schedule Huguely's sentencing date on April 16, at which time he can accept or reduce the jury's recommendation.
Outside the courtroom, Charlottesville Commonwealth's Attorney Warner D. Chapman told reporters that "what we do in court is a very rough approximation of justice in any given case.
"There's nothing that we can say that will make good the terrible and tragic loss to the Love family," Chapman said. "There are no winners in this case. There is nothing but loss everywhere."
He did not take any questions, saying he would wait until after sentencing to comment further.
Huguely's attorney, Francis Lawrence, said he was disappointed in the verdict, saying his client displayed "amazing resilience and courage."
"He's hopeful. He's spiritual," he said in brief comments following the verdict. "And we look forward to some corrections on what happened here tonight."
It was unclear whether Lawrence planned to appeal the verdict.
The jury did not agree with the prosecution that Huguely was guilty of first-degree murder, and it acquitted him on several other charges, including robbery, and breaking and entering to commit larceny.
Huguely has never denied he was in Love's apartment nor that they had a fight.
At the center of the case were dueling portraits of Huguely, who prosecutors contend killed Love in a jealous rage while the defense argued the death was accidental.
Prosecutors claimed Huguely followed through with a threat to kill Love after accusing her of allegedly having a liaison with a lacrosse player from a competing university.
"I should have killed you," he wrote in an e-mail to Love, which was read during the trial.
But the defense argued that Huguely contributed to her death but had no intention of killing her.
Lawrence described his client as "stupid, drunk -- but not calculating."
Police were initially called to Love's off-campus Charlottesville apartment by a roommate who reported a possible alcohol overdose, authorities said at the time.
A medical examiner found Love died of blunt force trauma to the head.
The prosecution told jurors that Love's death was slow and painful, claiming she could have remained alive for a couple of hours after Huguely left her apartment.
Inside an emotionally-charged courtroom, Huguely hung his head and appeared to cry during his attorney's plea during the sentencing phase that directly followed the jury's verdict.
"George's decision and judgment were clouded by drinking, immaturity," attorney Rhonda Quagliana told the jurors.
"It's not an excuse. It's not a justification. It's just a fact ... (at the time) George is a 22-year-old immersed in sex and alcohol."
Love's mother, Sharon, and sister, Alexis, both cried during their testimony in the sentencing phase, which saw two female jurors cry.
"Every year that goes by, I'm afraid I'm forgetting a little piece of her," Sharon Love told the court.
Alexis Love told the jurors that not a day goes by that she doesn't think about what happened to her sister.
"First, there's the shock. And then that wears off, and it becomes reality," she said. "...I've never wanted anything so much in life as I've wanted to see her face again."