George W. Huguely V lost what likely was his last criminal appeal when the U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to review his conviction for the murder of his ex-girlfriend and fellow University of Virginia varsity lacrosse player, Yeardley Love.
Huguely, 27, was convicted in the 2010 beating death of Love, a Cockeysville resident, and sentenced to 23 years. He argued in his petition to the Supreme Court that he was denied his "counsel of choice" during trial after one of his two lawyers fell ill and the judge ordered the proceedings to continue without her.
The rejection of Huguely's petition was among a long list of orders the justices released on Monday, the first day of their new session.
"I think this is pretty much it," law professor Carl Tobias said of Huguely's appeals. "He had to convince four judges — is there something erroneous that happened during his trial? You need four votes to take up an appeal, and it was just denied."
Tobias, of the University of Richmond School of Law, said the Supreme Court rejects the vast majority of petitions it receives and generally agrees to review only those in which "some kind of serious error" led to a conviction.
For Love's family, the rejection of Huguely's petition was a relief.
"I'm happy to put this behind us," Love's mother, Sharon Love, said Monday.
Sharon Love, who with her elder daughter, Lexie, sat through Huguely's trial in Charlottesville, Va., in 2012, said she tried not to follow his subsequent court appeals too closely.
"There wasn't anything I could do about it," she said. "I tried to let it run its course. It was in the courts' hands, and I trust the courts."
She said she has tried instead to focus on her family's One Love Foundation, which is named after her daughter's uniform number and seeks to combat relationship violence. The foundation is hosting a series of events next week, including a lacrosse clinic at Yeardley Love's high school, Notre Dame Preparatory in Towson, and a screening at the Senator Theatre of "Escalation," a film about an abusive relationship that the group shows as part of a workshop for high school and college students.
Love was found dead in her Charlottesville apartment on May 3, 2010, shortly before she and Huguely were scheduled to graduate. During Huguely's trial, witnesses testified that he had choked Love during a previous argument, and he had been drinking heavily on May 3 before kicking in her door and confronting her.
Defense lawyer Rhonda Quagliana fell ill during the trial, and Huguely argued that he did not feel fully protected without his entire legal team. The judge, however, ordered the trial to proceed after a short delay.
Huguely's appeal was filed by Paul D. Clement, a former U.S. solicitor general who has argued more than 75 cases before the Supreme Court.
"He is one of the very best and very highly regarded," Tobias said of Clement. "I'm sure he did everything he could."