CHARLOTTESVILLE — Graduation from the University of Virginia was within sight and a successful lacrosse season was wrapping up, yet George Huguely V was drinking heavily four times a week, so often and with such intensity that his close friends met to discuss an intervention, former teammates testified Thursday.
He was drunk around them and drunk around their parents. He was drunk in front of his father, on a day-long bender during a father-son golf outing hours before his final argument with Yeardley Love.
The intervention never came.
Huguely was arrested May 3, 2010, days before final exams, and charged with killing Love, who was found dead in her bed by a roommate. Huguely, 24, of Chevy Chase is on trial in Charlottesville, charged with first-degree murder and five other offenses to which he has pleaded not guilty.
Huguely’s lawyers have said he went to Love’s off-campus apartment that night to talk, to patch up the latest in their series of volatile breakups during two years of dating.
During the second day of testimony, a jury with equal numbers of men and women also heard from a student who attended a February 2010 party in Charlottesville at the apartment complex where Huguely lived. The witness testified that he heard a woman yelling “Help me! Help me!” and opened Huguely’s bedroom door to see Huguely with his arm tight around Love’s neck.
Michael Burns, who was then attending the University of North Carolina, said that after he entered the room, Huguely released Love and rolled over on his bed before a distraught Love ran out.
“She just said, ‘Thank you so much,’ ” said Burns, who demonstrated the chokehold he said he had seen to the jury. “She also said she couldn’t breathe. She was hysterically crying.”
Burns said he never asked Huguely to explain the incident. But when Burns called Love sometime later, she no longer seemed concerned, he said.
Three days before Love, of Cockeysville, Md., was found dead, Burns’s name appeared in a heated and profane e-mail exchange between Huguely and Love when Huguely suspected that Burns and Love had been intimately involved, prosecutors said. The e-mail included Huguely telling Love: “I should have killed you.”
Francis McQ. Lawrence, one of Huguely’s attorneys, questioned Burns about his contact with Love, who was 22 when she died. Burns testified that the two were not romantic but had gotten together in a couple of “hookups.”
Prosecutors confirmed the explosive e-mail three days before the start of the trial, after ongoing attempts to get it from computers and a BlackBerry used by Huguely and Love. The content was recovered a week ago by an FBI computer team, who “rushed” to get the job done before trial, one of the federal specialists testified.
Two sides of Huguely, who golfed with his father in the morning and allegedly committed an act of fury after the sun fell, were known to his friends and teammates, according to testimony.
At about 1 a.m. on May 3, 2010, a sorority sister of Love’s told her boyfriend — who was Huguely’s roommate — that Huguely’s “excessive drinking” was “becoming an issue,” according to testimony. Elizabeth McLean told jurors that Huguely was not in control of his drinking or his behavior.
At about 2 a.m. that day, Love’s roommate returned home to find Love in her bedroom, where Huguely had kicked through the door to reach her.