By Jean Marbella, The Baltimore Sun
9:16 PM EST, February 14, 2012
Two years later, George Huguely is barely recognizable from either his mug shot or his lacrosse team photo. In the way that photos like that "read," based on what we all thought we knew, in the former he looked sullen, in the latter he looked smug.
Huguely enters the Charlottesville Circuit Courthouse these days noticeably lighter, at least physically, but with sunken cheeks and heavy eyes. It could just be that, often, he seems to be looking down or away, perhaps to avoid the apparent glares from Lexie Love, sitting in the first row of the courtroom where he is standing trial on charges that he killed her sister Yeardley.
By contrast, Yeardley Love, the Cockeysville native and fellow University of Virginia lacrosse player, has remained frozen in time in the now-familiar photos that run in an endless loop — the sparkling blue eyes, the wide white smile. That she will never grow old, of course, is the inescapable tragedy of her youthful beauty.
As Huguely's trial continues into its second week, the portrait of each has been fleshed out, through emails they exchanged, the testimony of those who knew them and, perhaps most searingly, a videotaped police interrogation of the suspect the morning after Love's death.
On Tuesday, the testimony was largely technical, as pathologist after pathologist, as coroner after toxicologist after blood stain analyst took to the witness stand and fleshed out a post-mortem portrait of Love. A Hamlet-like model of a skull perched on the stand, there so the neuropathologists could point to specific parts of the brain, remained past its usefulness, until one of the lawyers finally asked that it be put away.
But what first seemed like highly scientific testimony turned out to tell a compelling story as well, such as what it means when "beautiful triangular" mitochondrial brain cells are found shrunken, as one neuropathologist put it. (Oxygen deprivation.)
And as dry as the testimony could be, about such things as lesions in arterial watersheds, it was of course not a theoretical, neurological lecture in a medical school classroom, but an analysis of a real injury to a real person. Even on this day, Love's mother, Sharon, had to leave the courtroom as she does in advance of particularly graphic testimony.
The witnesses would also cast more doubt on a defense notion that alcohol and the prescription drug Adderall contributed to Love's death. Love's blood alcohol level the night she died in May 2010 was .14, above the .08 legal limit for driving in Virginia, but far below the .4 that one doctor testified was about the minimum in which it could be considered as a factor in a death. A toxicologist said a "therapeutic" .05 level of amphetamine was found in her blood, apparently from Adderall, prescribed for ADHD, but that was well below the greater-than-.5 concentration that has been linked to deaths.
But as the trial continues in its second week, much still remains unknown. For a good part of the day, Huguely's lawyers pushed their interpretation of the bruising and bleeding found in the victim's brain — that they could have been caused by the desperate and ultimately futile efforts to resuscitate Love after she was found unconscious in her bedroom in an off-campus apartment.
Two neuropathologists, though, stuck to their guns, or at least their science, and insisted that Love's injuries stemmed from blunt-force trauma, not the CPR done on her.
And yet, the day ended with defense attorneys successfully getting the experts to agree that they couldn't say whether that blunt-force trauma was, for example, a blow to the head or perhaps Love falling to the floor.
It may seem like a fine point: Clearly, there was a physical altercation, one in which Love and Huguely were found with each other's DNA under their fingernails, and Love ended up dead. But for the 24-year-old Huguely, it could matter greatly to whether the jury ultimately considers what happened that night as first-degree murder, or something lesser, such as involuntary manslaughter.
From Tuesday's extended proceedings — testimony continued into the evening — the trial could last longer than the two weeks estimated originally. But whether it provides any more answers, or simply more unanswerable questions, remains to be seen.
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