Julie Carey, Art Lien
George Huguely's recorded interview with police following the death of Yeardley Love supports his defense's contention that Huguely did not plot to kill her but it also brings forth some contradictions. (Courtroom sketches by Art Lien.)
George Huguely wept in court on Friday as he listened to the taped recording of his interview with police detectives following Yeardley Love's death.
Friday is the third day of testimony in the trial of the former University of Virginia lacrosse player charged with murdering his former girlfriend, Yeardley Love.
In the Charlottesville court room, prosecutors played Huguely's statement to police, made just hours after Love was found dead in her off-campus apartment.
In the recording, Huguely gives his account of what happened in their final meeting. Huguely told police that he just wanted to talk to her the night he went to visit Love. He admitted that he had been drinking all day prior to the visit, consuming at least 10 drinks.
Huguely told detectives that Love had a "defensive edge" when he showed up at her apartment. He said on tape, "I was like, 'chill out' and shook her a little, and she started freaking out."
Huguely acknowledged the two wrestled, he shook her and may have grabbed her neck, but did not strangle her or repeatedly bang her head against the wall, as prosecutors allege.
“We were just going to talk,” he told Chalottesville police detective Lisa Reeves. “I never struck her. I never hit her in the face.”
“Did you hit her neck at all?” Reeves asked.
“I never, like, strangled her. I may have grabbed her neck,” Huguely said, describing their physical encounter as wrestling.
About halfway into the one-hour tape, Reeves and another detective informed Huguely that Love was dead, prompting a shocked response from Huguely.
“She's dead? She's dead? She's dead?” Huguely asked. “How? How is she dead?”
“You're here because she's dead,” one of the detectives said.
“I don't believe that she's dead. She's not dead,” he said, repeating those three words again several times.
“Please tell me she's not dead,” Huguely said. “There's no way she's dead. There's no way. There's no way.”
A slapping sound echoed through the courtroom, apparently Huguely slamming his hands or arms on the table. The tape was facing jurors and was not visible to family and spectators.
The tape's audio quality was poor, and many of the questions and responses were difficult to understand. Jurors, many of whom have taken notes through three days of testimony, leaned over and looked intently at the screen.
During the first half of the police interrogation, Huguely agreed to waive his right to an attorney present. He made rambling and seemingly contradictory statements.
While listenging to the tape in the courtroom, Huguely began to cry again. Two of the jurors also shed tears while hearing the evidence.
Reeves said she quickly considered Huguely a suspect after she saw his bruised knuckles and a cut on his arm. He told detectives the wounds were from lacrosse practice.
During the interrogation tape, Huguely said he had drank heavily the day before Love's death at a father-son golf outing at the Wintergreen resort. He said he drank beer while playing and wine at dinner that night.
Huguely was also questioned about Love's laptop, which was taken from her apartment. His attorneys have said he took the computer so Love would seek him out later.
But police and prosecutors said he tried to delete an email he sent to Love days earlier in which he wrote “I should have killed you” when he learned of her infidelity with a North Carolina lacrosse player.
First to take the stand Friday was Renu Virmani, a cardiac pathologist from Gaithersburg, Md.
Virmani testified that there was nothing wrong with Love's heart that caused her death. The doctor, who has practiced heart medicine for 30 years, said that there was some hemorrhaging in Love's heart, which could have been caused by CPR efforts. The doctor also said that in her career, she had never seen CPR cause hemorrhaging in the brain.
In opening statements, defense attorneys said that the blood found in Love's brain had been caused by paramedics administering CPR, not by Huguely's actions.
Huguely is accused of first-degree murder in Love's May 2010 death, allegedly slamming her head against a wall. His attorneys maintain the Maryland woman died in part by taking the prescription drug Adderall and drinking alcohol.
On Thursday, the jury heard testimony from first responders called to Love's apartment on the night of May 3, 2010.
Det. Sgt. Shawn Bayles told the court when he arrived on the scene, the first thing he noticed was a large hole in Love's bedroom door. "The young lady on the ground was obviously the victim of some act of violence," he testified.
Jurors were also shown images of paramedics working on Love's body that night. Love's mother and daughter both cried as the images were displayed.
The defense had petitioned unsuccessfully to present sanitized pictures of the crime scene, taken after Love's body had been removed.
Witnesses also have testified about the abusive relationship Love and Huguely had.