A Virginia appeals court on Tuesday upheld the second-degree murder conviction of a former University of Virginia lacrosse player found guilty in the beating death of his ex-girlfriend, Yeardley Love, in May 2010.
George W. Huguely V's lawyers appealed his 2012 conviction in the murder of Love, 22, who was a member of the U.Va. women's lacrosse team and a native of Cockeysville.
Love was found beaten in her apartment with the door kicked in just weeks before she was scheduled to graduate from U.Va. in 2010. According to court testimony, Huguely had a drinking problem and the two had a turbulent, on-and-off relationship. Huguely went to Love's apartment after a long day of heavy drinking and attacked her in bed, prosecutors said. She was found hours later by a roommate, who was unable to revive her, along with a friend and paramedics.
Huguely's lawyers argued that he didn't receive a fair trial in Charlottesville Circuit Court, because when one of his lawyers got sick, it continued without her. They added that the court did not allow the defense to properly vet members of the jury, and that the court did not adequately instruct the jury on the meaning of "malice" under Virginia law.
The appeals court found no errors in the trial and affirmed the conviction. It ruled that the defense lawyer's absence didn't deny him counsel because he had another competent lawyer in court with him.
Huguely, 24, of Chevy Chase, Md., is serving a 23-year sentence on the second-degree murder charge with a concurrent year-long larceny sentence. He did not appeal the larceny conviction.
Sharon Love, Yeardley's mother, said she was "thrilled" with the court's decision.
"It's one more step behind us," Sharon Love said Tuesday.
Love, with her elder daughter, Lexie, sat through Huguely's three-week trial in February 2012. Sharon Love said she was "relieved we don't have to go through another one."
"It's a big relief," she said. "You don't realize the weight on you until it's not there anymore."
Since her daughter's murder, Love has worked to raise awareness and eradicate relationship violence, particularly among high school and college students, through the One Love Foundation. The foundation is dedicated to the memory of her daughter, who wore the No. 1 on her lacrosse uniform.
"That's been a really good thing to have," Love said. "I can concentrate on that."
Love recently received the support of U.S. Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger in having the anniversary of her daughter's death, May 3, declared "National One Love Day."
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