"I believe he's guilty," said Christine Crenshaw, who has lived in Charlottesville since 1948, as she rushed off to the bank, a few blocks from the courthouse.

Huguely's lawyers are expected to argue that Love was taking prescription medication and drinking the night she died, which may have contributed to her death. Huguely has admitted to police that he fought with Love that night, shaking her repeatedly so that her head hit a wall, but he denies killing her.

"It is undisputed that a man hurt a woman. It is undisputed, that is fact," Rhonda Quagliana, one of Huguely's lawyers, said during jury questioning. She also said the "cause of death is a contested issue in this case."

That defense tack doesn't sit well with some.

"Blaming the victim, that really bothers me," said Catheryn Astin, a 60-year-old social worker and Charlottesville resident. She and her friends, who were on their way to lunch, said the case has raised awareness about issues of alcohol abuse and violence, and for that they were thankful. But they still called the circumstances tragic for both young people and their families, who watched jury selection from the front row of the courtroom Monday. Love's mother and older sister were seated on a bench to the right, while Huguely's parents sat on the left.

Jurors were brought in individually for questioning as reporters watched from the courthouse and a remote viewing location two blocks away, where a closed-circuit television displayed the proceedings.

Charlottesville officials spent months preparing for the trial, consulting with officials in Chesapeake, where the Beltway Sniper trial of Lee Boyd Malvo was held, "to learn from their experiences," said city spokesman Rick Barrick.

Charlottesville is known for its charming streets and eminently likable environment. It's frequently ranked among the top places to live, walk, eat and vacation. Its residents are unaccustomed to an influx of media for a negative event.

Love's death was shocking, said Mark Storslee, a U.Va. graduate student who was out for a walk with his new puppy. It was a reminder that "Charlottesville and the University of Virginia aren't immune to acts of violence," he said.

The campus is quieter on the topic now than it was in the days after Huguely's arrest, with fewer people talking about the case, he said, though pain still lingers for many who knew the couple.

"Hopefully," he said, "the trial can bring some closure."


  • Text NEWS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local news text alerts