UVA lacrosse players had a “rocky relationship” before they killed

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) – In her 9th grade essay, Yeardley Love wrote about what she wanted with her life: going to the University of Virginia, playing lacrosse there, becoming a lawyer, and maintaining her close relationship with her family.

Many of her dreams came true, but ended abruptly and violently when she was brutally beaten by her boyfriend, a lawyer for Love’s family said Tuesday to a jury in the civil lawsuit against the man convicted of killing her.

George Huguely V was convicted of second-degree murder and is serving a 23-year prison sentence for Love’s murder. Yeardley and Hugely both played lacrosse at UVA and were weeks away from graduation when Yeardley was found dead in his off-campus apartment in 2010.

An unlawful death case brought by Love’s mother, Sharon Love, seeks to hold him civilly responsible for her daughter’s death. The lawsuit claims $ 29.5 million in damages and $ 1 million in damages.

When the civil lawsuit began, Paul Bekman, a lawyer for Love’s family, showed the jury happy pictures of Love with his mother and sister. He described a kind, thoughtful, and caring young woman who played lacrosse, joined an association, and followed a rigorous academic schedule at UVA, while making sure to talk to her family almost every day.

Bekman told the jury that Love and Huguely had been dating for two years but had a “clipped relationship” marred by Huguely’s excessive drinking. He said fellow students will testify to past violent episodes where Huguely was drunk, including one that happened about a month or two before Yeardley was killed when visiting lacrosse players from North Carolina heard Love shout, “Help, I can not breathing.” and went into Huguely’s bedroom to find Huguely with his “hands around her neck.”

Bekman showed the jury graphic crime photos of Love as she lay dead on her bedroom floor, with her right eye turned in, her face bloody and marks on her shoulder and neck. Love’s mother and sister left the courtroom just before the pictures were shown and cried softly during several other parts of the opening statements.

A doctor assessed that Love died of blunt injuries to her head.

“She died as a result of an evil and brutal beating,” Bekman said.

Huguely’s lawyer, Matthew Green, told jurors that Huguely admits he assaulted Love and that her family is entitled to compensation in an amount to be determined by the jury. But he said the defense would argue that Huguely’s actions did not correspond to the “intentional and reckless” conduct required to award a criminal offense. In fact, Green said, Huguely did not intend to cause Love’s death.

Green urged the jury to focus on the approximately eight to 10 minutes Huguely spent in Love’s apartment the night she was killed. He said Huguely was a “party animal” who started drinking right after the UVA men’s lacrosse team played its last match on May 1, 2010. Huguely’s family was in town on “senior day” and he used the next 30 hours on consuming 45 to 50 drinks using a “conservative estimate,” Green said.

The following day, Love and Huguely exchanged anger, “immature emails,” but had corrected things that night and were seen on video while spending time with Huguely’s family at a bar, Green said. Then, around 11:45 p.m., a drunk Huguely went to Love’s apartment, where he kicked in her bedroom door.

During questioning by police early the next morning, Huguely said he only went to Love’s apartment to talk to her, but their quarrel quickly became physical. Huguely said Love’s head hit the wall and they fought on the floor but that when he left she only had a bloody nose. Her roommates found her dead about two hours later.

Green said Love’s visible damage was limited to the right side of her face, which he said is “consistent with a single blow, a kind of fall where her face hits the floor.”

Green said that when police told Huguely that Love was dead, his videotaped interview shows that “he just does not believe it.”

“Clearly, he had no understanding that a fatal event had happened,” Green said.

Green said the jury in Huguely’s criminal case dismissed a charge of first-degree murder and instead found him guilty of second-degree murder. He is about halfway through his 23-year prison sentence.

“Justice has been done,” Green said.

The lawsuit was originally filed in 2012, but was later voluntarily dismissed and then re-filed in 2018.

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