(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) — The man whose on-and-off relationship with Yeardley Love allegedly enraged George Huguely V testified Thursday that he once witnessed Huguely trapping a hysterical Love in a violent choke hold.
Michael Burns, a University of North Carolina lacrosse player, told jurors that in February 2010, he heard cries of “Help me, help me,” coming from Love’s bedroom and went in to find Huguely throttling Love.
“I saw George’s hands around Yeardley’s neck,” Burns said. Prosecutor Warner “Dave” Chapman had Burns stand up in court and demonstrate what he saw.
Huguely released her and turned to the wall as Love ran out of the room. Burns said that she was crying hysterically and said to him, “Thank you so much. I couldn’t breathe.”
The relationship between Burns and Love infuriated Huguely, who allegedly said in an email to Love days before her death, “When I found out about Mike Burns, I should have killed you.”
Burns told the court that although he and Love were not dating, they had “hooked up” a few times over the course of their college years, including the night he walked in on the choke hold. The last time they had been together was April 25, 2010. Love was found dead on May 3, 2010.
Huguely, 24, is charged with first-degree murder as well as five other charges in the death of his ex-girlfriend and University of Virginia classmate.
Love, 22, was a star lacrosse player at the school and a senior just weeks away from graduation. Huguely was also a lacrosse player for the school’s nationally ranked men’s team.
A number of Love and Huguely’s friends and teammates testified Thursday, and alcohol consumption was a main point of discussion. Friends said that Huguely drank four times a week, getting drunk each time. His teammates were so concerned that they were planning an intervention after the end of the season.
Stephanie Aladj, one of Love’s sorority sisters, was among the former students who testified. Love was supposedly upset that Huguley was texting Aladj, who described her relationship with Huguely as “on and off again.” She said that she and Love were on good terms.
Earlier Thursday Dr. Danny Mistry, the primary care physician for UVA sports teams, told the court that Love was an athlete in excellent shape.
When the doctor was asked if there was any medical reason Love should have passed away on May 3, 2010, he said, “No … She was in very good shape,” Mistry said.
The second day of testimony began with a police officer who gave a graphic description of what he found when he arrived at Love’s apartment. Jurors also saw photos of Love’s lifeless body, drawing sobs from her family in the courtroom while Huguely kept his head down.
Charlottesville Police Officer K.W. Blackwell was one of the first responders to arrive at Love’s room and find her on the floor. The officer was responding to a 911 call for a possible alcohol overdose.
“I realized it was nowhere near the report that came in,” Blackwell said.
“Her right eye was swollen shut…she had a black eye,” Blackwell told the court. “There was dried blood around her mouth and nose.”
Jurors were shown the first graphic photos of the trial Thursday morning. They saw images of EMTs attempting to revive Love, which brought her family to tears. Huguely’s head was down while the photos were up.
“There was no sign of life,” EMT Michael Hanshew testified. He said medics tried to resuscitate Love for about 25 minutes with no success.
Spectators in the courtroom could not see the images. An attorney representing a number of news outlets is filing a request for the photos to be made public.
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