Huguely team files appeal
Attorneys representing former University lacrosse player serve Charlottesville Circuit Court notice
Attorneys representing former University lacrosse player George Huguely are appealing his murder conviction, according to a notice filed Tuesday with the Charlottesville Circuit Court. Should the Virginia appellate court agree to hear his case, however, legal professionals say Huguely’s chances are slim.
“If the appeal is actually heard by the court of appeals, most convictions are affirmed,” Law Prof. Kent Sinclair said. “It depends on what actually happened in any individual case but statistically, [a] large majority of the appeals are unsuccessful.”
About one of five requested appeals is granted a hearing in the appellate court, Sinclair said.
A judge in August officially sentenced Huguely to 23 years in prison for the second-degree murder of his ex-girlfriend Yeardley Love, also a former University student, and grand larceny. The notice filed Tuesday came after a series of motions for appeal issued during the summer. The notice informs the court that the attorneys will submit a transcript of facts, testimony and other incidents relevant to the case.
Attorneys are not required to identify grounds for appeal in the notice. Charlottesville criminal defense lawyer Lloyd Snook III, however, said the defense may try to knock Huguely’s murder charges down to manslaughter, which would carry a lesser prison sentence.
“In the [June] motion for the new trial, they raised a number of issues and my guess is that they will basically parrot all of these issues and put them into the court of appeals,” Snook said.
Huguely’s attorneys could also appeal the larceny charge if they argued there was insufficient evidence as to whether Huguely’s crime was grand larceny or petty larceny, Snook said.
This is Huguely’s first court appeal, though last month a Charlottesville Circuit Court judge denied motions for retrial, which were filed in June.
The appeal differs from the motion for retrial because the case will go to a distinct set of judges who are unfamiliar with the case, Snook said. Petitions for appeal allow attorneys to obtain review of a trial by a panel of appellate judges to determine whether fundamental errors were made during the initial trial. The grounds for both the retrial and appeal would not differ, Snook said.
Defense attorneys will be able to take the case to the Virginia Supreme Court if they lose in the appellate court, said Llezelle Agustin Dugger, clerk at the Charlottesville Circuit Court.
Huguely, who beat Love to death in May 2010, was recently transferred to state custody. Snook said the appeal was a long shot but that the notice was the attorneys’ attempt to take a chance while they could. “You gotta take your shot,” he said. “They don’t give you more jail time for asking.”