Huguely case proceeds to grand jury
Friends of defendant, Love testify during lengthy preliminary hearing, describe clearer narrative of night of alleged murder last year
At a nine-hour preliminary hearing yesterday which closely resembled an actual trial, more than 20 witnesses, many of them students, brought to light new details about the death of Yeardley Love, a former Virginia lacrosse player.
The hearing, during which prosecutors demonstrated to a judge probable cause required to proceed with charges against Love's former boyfriend George Huguely, began at 1 p.m., and lasted well into the night, an unusually lengthy span that was perhaps fitting for the high-profile case that has brought national attention to Charlottesville and the University. A grand jury will convene Monday to further assess the evidence against Huguely before a trial can take place.
For the first time, close friends of Huguely and Love publicly detailed the circumstances surrounding Love's death May 3 last year, repeatedly describing Huguely as intoxicated the day he entered Love's room and "shook" Love, allowing her head "to repeatedly hit the wall," according to a police affidavit. Many of those friends had known either Huguely or Love since high school or middle school and remained in the courtroom along with both families throughout the course of the entire proceeding. Huguely waived his right to appear in court.
Caity Whiteley, Love's roommate, and Philippe Oudshoorn, a third-year College student and member of the men's tennis team, provided emotional testimony about the horrific scene they encountered upon returning to the apartment after a night at bars on the Corner. Whiteley testified that she had gone to Boylan Heights with Love earlier in the evening, and returned home with her at 10 p.m. Whitely went back to Boylan Heights shortly thereafter, but Love said she was tired and remained in her room. Whiteley later met up with Oudshoorn at The Virginian, and shortly before closing, went to Little John's, where Whiteley and Oudshoorn stayed until about 2:15 a.m.
The two of them returned to Whiteley and Love's apartment, and Whiteley opened the door to Love's room and attempted to wake her because, "I didn't want it to be just Philippe and I when I got back," Whiteley said. Whiteley noticed a hole in Love's bedroom door when she opened it and saw Love face down on her bed. She knelt on the bed over Love, and when she lifted her shoulder to try to wake her, she saw blood.
She exited the room, and alerted Oudshoorn, who called 911. Oudshoorn attempted to give Love CPR, and at no point, he said, did he feel Love's heartbeat. Paramedics, who also testified yesterday, arrived on scene and were also unable to revive Love.
Anna Leahman, who was then a fourth-year College student studying in her apartment below, testified that she heard a noise she said was "very loud" but "not very prolonged" the night Love died. After hearing the noise, she heard footsteps coming down the stairs from Love's apartment, then saw a man wearing a bright blue shirt, shorts and white tennis shoes in the parking lot outside.
Leahman, who did not suspect anything had occurred, continued studying and learned of Love's death the next day.
Lisa Reeves, a detective with the Charlottesville Police Department, testified that Huguely told her during an interrogation the next morning that he had taken Love's laptop upon leaving her apartment and disposed of it in a dumpster at The Pointe, an apartment complex across the street. Police later recovered the laptop and submitted it to evidence.
Police videotaped that interrogation, and during an opening statement, Fran Lawrence, Huguely's defense attorney, said Huguely had no idea Love was dead when he left her apartment that night, and learned of her death only after Reeves had questioned her for an hour.
"She's not dead. I didn't, I didn't, I didn't," Huguely said in response, according to Lawrence. "I never did anything that could do that to her."
About 24 hours prior to Huguely's interrogation, he had just started a long day of drinking, Kevin Carroll, his roommate, testified. Throughout the course of that day, Huguely's teammates and friends who testified at the trial reported seeing Huguely become progressively more intoxicated up until the time he allegedly entered Love's apartment.
Carroll and Huguely spent the day at a father-son golf tournament at Wintergreen Resort, a ski venue about 30 miles west of Charlottesville. Chris Clements, a member of the men's lacrosse team who was paired with Huguely during the tournament, testified that Huguely continued to drink during the course of their round.
"George was definitely drunk by the last three holes," Carroll said.
Later that night at around 10:30 p.m., Carroll, Huguely and other members of the men's lacrosse team were hanging out in Huguely's apartment. Huguely left the apartment, and Carroll did not report seeing him until shortly after midnight, when Huguely returned saying he had been downstairs in Clements' apartment. In a phone call later, Clements told Carroll Huguely had never entered his apartment. He came up to Clements' door, but Clements, who had spent the night writing a paper, locked it when he heard Huguely approaching, Clements testified. "I told him to go away," Clements said.
Also at issue during the testimony of Huguely's friends was a prior incident which occurred between Huguely and Love the Tuesday before Love's death. Elizabeth McLean, one of Love's sorority sisters who also dated Kevin Carroll, Huguely's roommate, reported hearing an incident the Tuesday before Love's death which occurred in Huguely and Carroll's apartment. Two high school girls, McLean said, were staying with Huguely that night, and Love, who was angry after learning about the situation, entered the apartment and confronted Huguely. Neither Carroll nor McLean said why the girls were staying with Huguely, but after the confrontation ended, McLean walked Love back to her apartment.
After friends of Huguely and Love finished their testimony, Charlottesville police officers and medical experts took the stand. Rhonda Quagliana, a partner of Lawrence's who questioned several of the witnesses, grilled Virginia Chief Medical Examiner William Gormley about the state of Love's body when he performed the autopsy. Quagliana questioned Gormley about whether Adderall, a medicine for which Love had a prescription, may have contributed to Love's death. Gormley, though, rested with the conclusion of his autoposy - Love had died from blunt force trauma to the head.
Huguely has now spent 11 months in Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail and faces charges of first-degree murder, felony murder and several other ones stemming from crimes he allegedly committed that night. The hearing yesterday, which was initially scheduled to take place in the Charlottesville General District Court, was moved to the Charlottesville Circuit Court to allow for a greater number of spectators.