Huguely's attorneys seek leniency in Love killing

Attorneys for a former University of Virginia lacrosse player convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend are asking a judge to reduce a jury's recommended sentence of 26 years, offering his mother's plea for leniency for her "beautiful son."

George W. Huguely V's attorneys are seeking a sentence of 14 years in the May 2010 slaying of Yeardley Love, according to a filing Wednesday in Charlottesville Circuit Court. Jurors who convicted him of second-degree murder in February recommended 26 years, including 1 year for grand larceny.

The filing came on the eve of Huguely's formal sentencing by Circuit Judge Edward Hogshire. He will not be bound Thursday by the jury's recommended sentence, but judges in Virginia typically heed jurors sentencing recommendations.

Huguely, a 24-year-old from Chevy Chase, killed Love in her Charlottesville apartment as their two-year relationship spiraled downward amid accusations that each had been unfaithful to the other. Love, 22 and of Cockeysville, was also a varsity lacrosse player at U.Va.

In their court filing, Huguely's attorneys offer arguments to reduce Huguely's sentence and portions of letters submitted to the court for consideration at Huguely's sentencing. They include the memorandum from Huguely's mother, Marta Murphy.

"We love Georgie deeply and will stand by him forever," she writes. "Our tight knit family and close group of friends will offer him a strong and supportive network when he is released.

"Please have mercy and be lenient and compassionate on my beautiful son," Murphy writes, adding that Love was "a part of our lives."

Letters in support of Huguely were also submitted by his sister, a cousin, neighbors, family friends, former classmates and the former captain of the U.Va. lacrosse team.

Huguely's attorneys, Rhonda Qualiana and Francis McQ. Lawrence, also state that Love and Huguely were both intoxicated the night of Love's death and acknowledge Huguely's history of alcohol abuse, which was revealed by friends and teammates at his trial.

"There is nothing in Mr. Huguely's background to suggest that the use of alcohol could not be successfully addressed or that a sentence of twenty-six years is required to ensure that Mr. Huguely never abuses alcohol," they wrote.

The filing also mentions wrongful death suits filed by Sharon Love, Yeardley's mother, seeking damages approaching $60 million. One suit seeks $30 million from Huguely.

"Civil damages provide plaintiffs with a means — though imperfect — of making a victim whole and penalizing (the offender)," the attorneys write.

In seeking a sentence reduction to 14 years, Huguely's attorneys cite Virginia sentencing guidelines. Jurors do not review sentencing guidelines when determining an offender's punishment.