Fights detailed at start of murder trial
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- A former University of Virginia lacrosse player and the ex-girlfriend he is accused of killing traded allegations of infidelity and angry emails in the months before her death, with one of his messages saying: "I should have killed you," prosecutors said Wednesday.
George Huguely V faces first-degree murder and five other charges in the May 2010 death of Yeardley Love, who played on the woman's lacrosse team. During opening statements Wednesday, Huguely's attorneys said he was very drunk the night Love died and incapable of plotting to kill her. They also disputed evidence prosecutors said shows Love's head hit a wall several times and that she died of blunt-force trauma.
Prosecutor Dave Chapman said Huguely had a pattern of violence against Love, and he intended to kill her and steal her laptop to get rid of incriminating evidence. Two days before Love's death, Huguely accused Love in an email of having a relationship with a University of North Carolina lacrosse player, Chapman said.
"When I found out about Mike Burns, I should have killed you," the email said, according to Chapman.
Love showed the email to her teammates, who testified about it.
Huguely and Love dated for two years, but in their final year of college it became an on-again, off-again relationship, with arguments and the exchange of angry and abusive emails.
Defense attorney Francis Lawrence said the relationship drama and infidelity went both ways. A videotape of Huguely's interview with police will show he's incapable of being a calculating criminal, he told the jury.
"He's not complicated. He's not complex. He's a lacrosse player," Lawrence said.
Huguely went to Love's apartment to talk and work things out, not to kill her, Lawrence said. He took the laptop as "collateral" -- a way to get her to continue to talk to him, not to destroy evidence.
The defense attorney said Huguely wasn't aware Love was dead until police informed him later. His defense contends she died from a cardiopulmonary failure caused in part by taking prescription Adderall and drinking alcohol. He also said the blood found at the base of Love's brain wasn't caused by Huguely but by forceful attempts to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
The afternoon's witnesses included Love's roommates and lacrosse teammates, Kaitlin Duff and Caity Whiteley. The women discussed Love's on-again, off-again relationship with Huguely, including details of arguments and a conversation with two men's tennis players in which Love inadvertently discovered Huguely was dating another woman.
The prosecutor questioned the women about the content of the emails exchanged between Love and Huguely in the week before her death. Duff said Love told her and other teammates about the emails, but admitted she never saw the word "kill" firsthand.
Whiteley said that Love did have "some sort of relationship" with Burns, the North Carolina lacrosse player who was a friend of Whiteley from high school.
The women also recounted what the three friends did in the days and hours leading up to Love's death, including many outings in which they consumed alcohol. Whiteley and Love were planning to go out the last night she saw her alive, but Whiteley said Love ended up staying in.
Whiteley and a friend, Virginia tennis player Philippe Oudshoorn, discovered Love unresponsive, face down in her bed, when the two returned to the apartment in the early morning hours. She started crying as she testified about seeing blood on the bedding, along with cuts and assorted injuries on her roommate's face.
She said she gave officers information about Huguely soon after they arrived on the scene, and also told them about the emails.
The defense attorney tried to point to prior statements Whiteley made about how many drinks Love consumed during their outings on the last day she was seen alive. He also indicated that Whiteley had told officers investigating Love's death that she thought Love was drunk and was going to "pass out."
But Whiteley denied Wednesday that Love was "crazy or out of control."
The first witnesses included Love's mother, Sharon, and sister, Lexie, and the girls' cousin, Mary Ryan McChesney, who talked about finding out about Love's death and heading to Charlottesville to gather her belongings.
Love's downstairs neighbor, Anna Lehmann, talked about hearing a very loud sound in the apartment above her, along with loud footsteps. She testified she saw a stocky male, about 6 feet tall, with brown hair and wearing a royal blue shirt leaving the building about 10 minutes later.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
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