George Huguely Allowed to Appeal UVa. Lacrosse Murder Conviction
(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Ba.) -- Convicted University of Virginia lacrosse player George Huguely V has been granted an appeal in the murder of ex-girlfriend Yeardley Love.
Huguely, 25, was convicted of second-degree murder and grand larceny in February 2012 for the beating death of Love. He was sentenced to 23 years for murder, plus one concurrent year for the grand larceny conviction in August 2012 for stealing her computer.
His legal team argued in court filings that there were a number of "constitutional and procedural errors" in the trial, including that instructions given to jurors on the pivotal point of malice were "inadequate" and that there was a lack of evidence to support a murder charge.
The Virginia Court of Appeals did grant the appeal, but not on those grounds. The appeal was granted on the defense's arguments that Huguely was denied his right to counsel when the trial was forced to proceed despite one of his lead attorney's illness nine days into the trial and that the jury was not fair and impartial.
There was a claim that one of the jurors should have been excluded when there were doubts about her impartiality.
Either the defense or the prosecution can challenge the appeal if they wish.
"We are delighted that the Court of Appeals granted our petition for appeal," Huguely's attorney Paul Clement told ABC News. "Although we may ask the Court to broaden the appeal, the Court of Appeals' action underscores that there are serious issues about whether George received a fair trial that complied with his constitutional rights. We look forward to proceeding with the appeal on the merits, and we remain hopeful that the Court of Appeals will order a new trial."
Huguely was convicted of killing Love, 22, in a drunken rage in May 2010 just weeks before she was to graduate from the University of Virginia. Both Huguely and Love were star lacrosse players on the university's elite teams.
Huguely faced six charges, including first-degree murder, in Love's death.
Through a 12-day trial in February 2012, jurors listened to testimony from nearly 60 witnesses and saw a video of Huguely's police statement, graphic photos of Love's battered body, and read text and email correspondence between the two.
Though charged with first-degree murder, the judge gave jurors a menu of lesser charges they could choose from: second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter.
Neither the prosecution nor the defense denied that Huguely was in Love's room the night of her death and was involved in an altercation with her. They differed on the severity of the encounter and whether Huguely was directly and intentionally responsible for Love's death.
Over the course of the trial, prosecutors painted a portrait of Huguely as a violent and enraged man who savagely beat Love in her bedroom and left her there to die. Prosecutors claimed that Love died from blunt force trauma to the head.
The defense depicted Huguely as a troubled young man whose problems with alcohol spiraled out of control. They described Huguely and Love's relationship as mutually tempestuous, with both of them jilting and betraying each other. They maintained that Huguely went to Love's bedroom with the intention to talk to her and that, while things got heated and he pushed her around a bit, he did not do anything severe enough to kill her.
During deliberations, jurors had the option of looking at evidence from the trial again, including Huguely's video-taped statement to the police hours after Love's death. Huguely said he and Love had wrestled on the floor, but that he never struck her.
Before finding out Love was dead, Huguely told police in his video-taped statement that when he went to see his former girlfriend the night of her death he told her to "chill out" and "shook her a little."
"We were just going to talk," Huguely told the officer in the video. "It was not at all a good conversation."
Huguely's legal team has filed motions for a new trial twice before and has been denied both times.
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