Nearly two years ago, the University of Virginia mourned and tried to comprehend the death of Yeardley Love, a fourth-year student from the Baltimore area who played on the lacrosse team. On Monday a trial is set to start for her ex-boyfriend George Huguely V, who also played lacrosse at U-Va. and is charged with her murder.
The trial is expected to dominate campus conversations for weeks to come and arouse strong emotions for some students, coaches, faculty and staff members, so university officials are urging them to reach out for help if they need it.
“As the trial proceeds, details emanating from the courtroom may create or compound emotional distress for students or others with whom you live, socialize or have classes,” Chief Student Affairs Officer Patricia M. Lampkin wrote in an e-mail to students on Wednesday. “If you sense that someone in your circle — a friend, classmate, hallmate, apartment-mate — needs attention or help, then we encourage you to call upon the resources available here at the University. It is important not to ignore those around us who may be experiencing difficulty.”
Huguely, 24, is charged with the first-degree murder of Love. If found guilty, he could face a life sentence. Huguely is also charged with felony murder, robbery of a residence, burglary, entering a house with intent to commit a felony and grand larceny. One of Huguely’s attorneys said in 2010 that Love’s death was “an accident with a tragic outcome” but not an intentional criminal act.
Jury selection is set to start Monday and continue Tuesday. (For more about the case, read “Murder trial of George Huguely in death of Yeardley Love set to start Monday.”)
As the university and town of Charlottesville prepared for the scheduled trial and the arrival of dozens of reporters, students resumed discussing the case — and, in some cases, the sensitive issue of dating violence.
“This event, as much as it was a tragedy, gives people an opportunity to have a discussion about something that they would never want to talk about,” said Dan Morrison, U-Va. student council president. “I think there’s now a greater sense of responsibility to one another.”
To help guide discussions of the trial, U-Va. law professor Anne M. Coughlin gave a presentation Thursday evening about criminal procedure and answered questions from students.
Coughlin explained the different types of charges that have been brought against Huguely and told the students the trial will likely focus on his state of mind at the time of Love’s death, according to The Cavalier Daily student newspaper.
U-Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan e-mailed faculty and staff on Wednesday to encourage them to support one another and their students during the next few weeks. Sullivan, who was named president a few months after Love’s death, ended her message by saying:
“Nearly two years ago, our University community came together to grieve the loss of Yeardley Love. The coming days will be a challenging period for our community, as the trial of George Huguely begins and the details of Yeardley's death re-emerge. We will leave the judgment in this case to the justice system, and direct our energy toward creating a truly caring community. Doing this will be the best tribute to Yeardley's life and her memory.”
UPDATE: This post was updated on Friday to clarify that the trial is scheduled to start on Monday and that jury selection is expected to take at least a day or two.
For ongoing coverage of Huguely’s case and the trial scheduled to start in Charlottesville next week, follow Jenna on Twitter (@wpjenna) and the Post’s Crime Scene blog. Here’s some of our previous coverage:
U-Va. slaying prompts campus safety talks (Sept. 25, 2010)
Love’s lacrosse number is retired by University of Virginia (March 6, 2011)
Case of U-Va. lacrosse player Love’s death advances to grand jury (April 11, 2011)
Huguely indicted on first-degree murder charge in Va.(April 18, 2011)