Case of U-Va. lacrosse player Love’s death advances to grand jury

Former University of Virginia lacrosse player George Huguely V did not know until an hour into his interview with a Charlottesville police detective that his on-again, off-again girlfriend, Yeardley Love, was dead and that he was a suspect in her killing, defense attorneys said Monday in court.

“She’s dead, George, and you killed her,” Detective Lisa Reeves told him hours after Love’s body was found face down in a bloody pillow by her roommate May 3, the lawyers said.

Huguely responded that he did not believe the police and added: “There is nothing I did to her last night that could have killed her,” they said.

The account of that exchange was relayed by Huguely’s attorneys during an unusually long preliminary hearing Monday.

At the end of the nine-hour hearing, District Court Judge Robert H. Downer Jr. determined there was enough evidence against Huguely to send the case to the next step of the legal process. A grand jury in Charlottesville Circuit Court will decide later this month whether to indict Huguely, 23, of Chevy Chase, on charges of felony murder, assault, robbery and burglary in Love’s death and the theft of her computer.

Neither Huguely’s videotaped statement to police nor the contents of e-mails and computer messages he is alleged to have exchanged with Love was revealed during the hearing, which lasted more than eight hours. The video was made available privately to the judge under an agreement reached between the defense and Charlottesville prosecutor Warner “Dave” Chapman.

Testimony from more than 20 witnesses painted a turbulent relationship during the couple’s senior year at U-Va. Love’s mother, Sharon, and sister, Lexie, were in court, although the mother briefly exited just before stretches of the more graphic descriptions of her daughter’s injuries.

Relatives of Huguely’s also were in court, including his parents and stepparents.

Witnesses recalled several conflicts between Love and Huguely, including Love’s discovery that Huguely might have been dating another woman, according to Love’s roommate, Caitlin Whiteley.

Huguely also was found by Love to be talking with two female high school students at his apartment, according to Elizabeth McLean, the girlfriend of Huguely’s roommate. The teenagers were touring campus in the days before Love’s death. McLean said she escorted an “upset” Love home after Love confronted Huguely in his apartment.

Several fellow men’s lacrosse players said that on the Sunday that Love died, they saw Huguely drinking and believed he was drunk at various points throughout the day. The drinking lasted from 9 a.m. till after midnight, according to testimony.

Mary Pat Flaherty works on investigative and long-range stories. Her work has won numerous national awards, including the Pulitzer Prize.

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