By Tricia Bishop, The Baltimore Sun
8:10 PM EST, February 13, 2012
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va .—
There were multiple bruises on Yeardley Love's body when she died in May 2010, according to testimony from a medical examiner Monday in the murder trial of her former University of Virginia boyfriend, George Huguely V, who's accused of beating the 22-year-old to death in a drunken rage shortly before their graduation.
Her calves and thighs were bruised, there were "major" contusions on her left forearm, and there was a large bruise over the knuckles of her left hand, according to William T. Gormley, Virginia's assistant chief medical examiner, who performed the autopsy.
He walked the jury through about three dozen photos documenting the procedure and its findings, showing the damage that had been done to the young woman's petite frame. She had a black eye and a swollen socket, a bruised chin and a scraped lip. The flesh inside her mouth had been torn, and her tongue was black and blue.
Some of the contusions were "consistent with finger marks," Gormley said.
The deposition came during the fourth day of testimony in Huguely's trial, which could press into the weekend if no verdict is reached by Friday. The prosecution has yet to rest its case, which would allow the defense to begin, and Charlottesville Circuit Judge Edward L. Hogshire has said he's prepared to work Saturday if need be.
The case has drawn national attention and raised questions about alcohol abuse and domestic violence on college campuses. Huguely has admitted consuming more than 15 drinks before confronting Love at her apartment the night of May 2, 2010. He kicked in her door, according to a taped statement he gave to police, then wrestled with her inside.
Love's roommate found her body the next morning, shortly after 2 a.m.
Huguely has pleaded not guilty to murder charges. His attorneys have said involuntary manslaughter is a more appropriate charge. They contend that Love died in part because she'd been drinking and taking the prescription medication Adderall, which is used to treat attention-deficit disorders, though they acknowledge that Huguely hurt her that night.
The autopsy photos, which were described in detail but not shown to courtroom onlookers, appear to reveal some of the violence.
Investigators started by photographing her body, then slowly cataloging her external wounds. Eventually, they looked inside her body, noting a bruise to her heart — likely from cardio-pulmonary resuscitation attempts — and the underside of her scalp. There was also a hemorrhage in her neck, near the carotid artery, which supplies blood to the face and brain and regulates the heartbeat. Pressure in that area can cause the heart to slow or stop, Gormley said.
"It could have led to death," he said.
One of Huguely's attorneys, Rhonda Quagliana, pointed out on cross-examination that the amount of force required to cause such bruising is undetermined and that Gormley cannot conclusively say that the apparent finger marks indeed came from fingers.
Both Love, a Cockeysville native, and Huguely, from Chevy Chase, were U.Va. lacrosse players, and defense attorneys have suggested that injuries could have come from playing the sport. But Love's roommate, Caity Whiteley, has previously testified that Love wasn't bruised before she died.
Earlier in the day Monday, Charlottesville police described various injuries to Huguely— including red knuckles, a bruised arm and a scraped calf — which the defendant claimed were lacrosse-related.
So far, prosecutors have presented more than two dozen witnesses in the trial, which will resume Tuesday.
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