Attorneys in Charlottesville on Monday began selecting a jury for the trial of George Huguely V, a former University of Virginia lacrosse player who is charged with murdering his ex-girlfriend, Yeardley Love, in May 2010.
The selection of 12 jurors and three alternates from a pool of 160 began about 9:30 a.m. and is expected to take all day, and possibly part of Tuesday. In picking the jury, defense attorneys and prosecutors are expected to ask potential jurors about their personal experiences with domestic violence and their exposure to information about the case.
Nearly two years ago, Love, 22, of Cockeysville, was found facedown in a pool of blood on her pillow in her bed by her roommate in their off-campus apartment, according to arrest reports and previous court testimony. Huguely was arrested within hours.
In a navy blue blazer, white shirt and tan pants that all looked to be at least a size too large, a very lean 24-year-old Huguely entered the courtroom Monday and pleaded not guilty to murder and five other charges.
It was the first time Huguely appeared in court in person in the two years since he was arrested and sent to the regional jail in Charlottesville. When last seen, Huguely was close to the 200 pound weight listed for him as a varsity player. He was markedly thinner Monday and had grown out his hair, which in the last public jail photos had been shaved.
Huguely scarcely glanced at the front row where his mother, father and about 20 other relatives sat. But he watched intently as some of the prospective jurors filed through. Charlottesville Circuit Court Judge Edward L. Hogshire and lawyers worked to select twelve jurors and three alternates to hear the case.
Across the aisle from the Huguely clan sat the mother, older sister and other relatives of Love. Love's sister, Lexie, was in a pink jacket, and her mother, Sharon Love, wore a pink scarf as did two others in the Love cadre. Before the start of trial, there had been a ban on the wearing of any memorial items — such as the "Love" bracelets seen on witnesses and family members at previous hearings in the case. Whether the pink was a coincidence or deliberate, it bound the Love women visually as a group. Love's sister briefly wept but then was steel-eyed as she watched Huguely at the defense table.
Lexie Love, Sharon Love and Huguely's father, George IV of Potomac, all are expected to appear as witnesses, according to court statements by Commonwealth's Attorney Warner “Dave” Chapman and the Huguely defense team of Francis McQ. Lawrence and Rhonda Quagliana, both Charlottesville attorneys.
Huguely answered in a strong voice “not guilty” to each of the six charges against him: first-degree murder, felony murder, robbery of a residence, burglary, entering a house with intent to commit a felony and grand larceny. He answered with a “yes sir” and brisk nod as the judge asked whether Huguely understood the charges against him. After Hogshire asked “are you ready for trial today?” Huguely said "yes sir."
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. If found guilty, he could face life in prison.
News of Love’s death and Huguely’s arrrest was widely reported, and potential jurors were questioned about their knowledge of the case.
Before breaking for lunch, the court heard from nine potential jurors, all of whom said they had followed the news about Love's death and some of whom said they had already formed strong opinions about the case. In questioning several of them, Quagliana, one of Huguely’s attorneys, asked if they could handle seeing graphic photos, specific questions about their personal experiences with domestic violence, their opinions of male athletes and if they would think the defense was “blaming the victim” if they brought up information about Love drinking alcohol or information that showed her in an unfavorable light.
Seven of the nine were dismissed, including a mother with a 21-year-old daughter who said she sympathized with the Loves and a U-Va. parking supervisor who said she once wore a ribbon in memory of Love and thinks some athletes having a feeling of entitlement. The two jurors who stayed were a retired grandmother whose oldest grandson just started college and a U-Va. professor whose three sons played sports.
National and regional media descended on Charlottesville for the start of the trial. More than 150 journalists have registered to have access to the Charlottesville Circuit courtroom. One street near the courthouse was closed to accommodate a line of satellite television trucks.
This Post has been updated.
For ongoing coverage of Huguely’s case and the trial in Charlottesville, follow Jenna on Twitter (@wpjenna) and the Post’s Crime Scene blog. Here’s some of our previous coverage: