(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) — Severe bruising and injuries found under Yeardley Love’s chin, inside her lip and abrasions on her cheek could be consistent with smothering, according to a medical examiner that testified today in George Huguely V’s murder trial.
Huguely told police in a videotaped interview hours after Love’s lifeless body was discovered that he had “shook her a little,” but insisted that he did not seriously injure her. Still, the injuries described by the medical examiner pointed to signs of a serious struggle between Love and her alleged attacker.
The assistant medical examiner, Bill Gormley, told the court that he discovered bruises to Love’s chest, knuckles, forearms, lower back, buttocks and upper thigh area.
Gormley said that bruising discovered under Love’s chin, inside lip and abrasions on her cheek could be consistent with smothering. He did not specify how she could have been suffocated, but said the hemorrhaging of tissue found under her neck “could reflect pressure, which could’ve led to death.”
As Gormley described Love’s extensive injuries, Huguely sat with his face in his hands.
Photos detailing Love’s bruises were shown only to the judge, jurors, Huguely and attorneys. The public and press could not see them.
Gormley explained to the court how medical examiners who dissected Love’s brain found that the right side had areas of hemorrhaging. Smothering, however, was not the cause of death, he told the court.
“Dissection of soft tissue under Love’s neck showed hemorrhaging that suggests pressure of blunt force trauma,” Gormley said.
Love’s official cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.
In the defense’s cross-examination, Gormley was asked if the injuries Love sustained on her face could have happened with a single impact blow. He said yes.
Gormley conceded that all of Love’s injuries could have happened with a single event, which is consistent with the defense’s claim that Huguely and Love wrestled on the ground.
It was also pointed out that bruising can be caused by a number of things aside from force, like medications.
Huguely, 24, is charged with first degree murder as well as five other charges in the death of Love.
Love, 22, was a star lacrosse player at the University of Virginia and a senior just weeks away from graduation. Huguely was also a lacrosse player for the school’s nationally ranked team.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Jackie Wattles and Rene Marsh, CNN
Tom Kludt, CNN
Stephen Collinson, CNN