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Huguely trial delayed again because of attorney illness

The trial of George Huguely V — accused of fatally beating Yeardley Love, his former University of Virginia girlfriend — was suspended for a second day Friday because of a defense attorney's illness.

Attorney Rhonda Quagliana was too sick to appear in court to question medical experts, said her co-counsel, Francis McQ. Lawrence, adding that it would be "impossible" for him to quickly prepare to do the questioning himself.

"We should not have any difficulties finishing [today], assuming she's well enough to proceed," Lawrence said. "[She] is anxious to be back here just as soon as she can" after missing court Thursday as well.

Charlottesville Circuit Judge Edward L. Hogshire ordered testimony not requiring Quagliana to continue through Friday morning, over Lawrence's objections about having to go forward without full representation for his client. The jury was dismissed about 11 a.m., after hearing from Huguely's aunt, two high school girls who had visited the university, a computer appraiser and a biomechanical consultant.

Huguely, 24, is charged with murder, robbery, assault, grand larceny and related crimes in the death of Love, a Cockeysville native, in May 2010, shortly before the two were to graduate. Prosecutors claim he broke into Love's apartment late one night, drunk, and attacked the young woman, then stole her laptop as he left.

In the days leading up to Love's death, they had been arguing over each other's infidelities, and Huguely had bemoaned not killing her in an email. Love was ignoring him, according to prosecution witnesses, but Huguely's aunt and godmother, Alina Massaro, testified Friday that the pair were holding hands the night of Saturday, May 1, about 24 hours before Huguely confronted Love.

Massaro narrated a video recording of the hand-holding, which was taken from a bar surveillance tape and shown to the jury.

"There's Georgie, and now that's Yeardley, and they're holding hands," Massaro said. The recording was not visible to the court gallery.

Michael Woodhouse, a biomechanical consultant from Norfolk, Va., testified that he couldn't find evidence that Love's head hit a portion of wall removed from her bedroom. Prosecution witnesses have noted significant damage to Love's brain.

A computer expert estimated that Love's laptop was worth between $100 and $150, below the $200 threshold for grand larceny in Virginia, though prosecutors disputed the figure. And two high school girls, who had been visiting the U. Va. campus a week before Love died, testified that they witnessed an argument between the couple, in which Love barged into Huguely's apartment and hit him with her purse.

Hogshire dismissed the jury after hearing from the witnesses.

"We're just going to do the best we can," Hogshire said of finishing up. "We're going to take it day to day."

Huguely's trial began two weeks ago and was expected to conclude Friday. It will now continue Saturday morning, if Quagliana is able to attend, and should go to the jury later in the day. If the panel's members are unable to begin deliberation this weekend, the case will be suspended until next week.

tricia.bishop@baltsun.com

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