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Huguely defense files motion for retrial in beating death case

Justice SystemCollege SportsGeorge Huguely V

A defense attorney for George Huguely V has filed a motion in a Charlottesville, Va., court requesting a retrial for the former University of Virginia lacrosse player convicted of second-degree murder and grand larceny in the 2010 beating death of his former girlfriend, Yeardley Love.

The motion to set aside that verdict and schedule a new trial, and a memorandum in support of the motion, were filed Friday, which was the deadline.

The motion questions many aspects of the February trial, including the selection and treatment of the jury — which recommended that Huguely serve a total of 26 years in prison for Love's death and the theft of her laptop — and the handling of an illness suffered by one of Huguely's attorneys during the trial.

It also questions the validity of the charges Huguely was found guilty of, arguing that the evidence in the case doesn't support them.

The motion was largely expected, given the complexity and high-profile nature of the case, and even if denied helps establish the legal groundwork for a possible appeal after Huguely's sentencing at the end of August.

"In any kind of a big case like that, it's very routine to file a motion for a retrial," said David Heilberg, a Charlottesville attorney and past president of the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, who has followed the case. "The thing you do is lay out and basically renew some of the grounds for appeal."

The motion says there is "no evidence" that the injury that killed Love, who grew up in Cockeysville and also played lacrosse for the university, was caused by "anything other than the fall from the bed."

A struggle between Huguely and Love, and the beating, occurred in Love's bedroom.

The motion also says there is no evidence Huguely "willfully or purposefully embarked upon a course of 'wrongful conduct likely to cause death or great bodily harm.'"

"It was clear from the evidence that Mr. Huguely should have been convicted of no more serious offense than manslaughter," the motion says.

The memorandum supporting the motion states that "the jury could not find that any single event that occurred during the time Mr. Huguely was with Ms. Love caused her death. It is just as likely that a fall by Ms. Love from her bed, which is suggested by the evidence, was the mechanism that caused the injury that ultimately caused her death, as anything else."

The motion says the court denied multiple motions filed by the defense in regards to jury selection, including a motion to sequester the jury, and that restricted certain lines of questioning by the defense.

Huguely's lawyers also argue that the jury selection was made difficult because of the "unprecedented level of pretrial publicity" and the court's "unprecedented measures to accommodate" the news media.

The motion says the court did not honor Huguely's right to use an attorney of his choice by placing an "unyielding emphasis on expeditiousness" in the case and forcing the defense to move forward despite the illness of attorney Rhonda Quagliana.

In addressing the complaints, Judge Edward Hogshire will look at whether the defense should have raised them during the trial, and for whether alleged "mistakes" in the case by the prosecution could be considered "harmless," Heilberg said.

"There's no such thing as a perfect trial," Heilberg said, and the judge won't grant a retrial lightly.

"But if there was a serious mistake made, that can throw everything back to a new trial, or change the verdict," Heilberg said.

Huguely's attorney could not be reached for comment Friday, nor could Charlottesville Commonwealth Attorney Warner Chapman, the prosecutor. Love's mother, Sharon Love, could not be reached for comment either.

krector@baltsun.com

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