Prosecutors had sought a first-degree murder conviction, while Huguely’s attorneys were hoping for the lesser charge of manslaughter. The verdict is in between the two.
The case of the two accomplished lacrosse players at a prominent university
has captured national attention. In the small courtroom where relatives of Huguely and Love have sat across from one another for most of the month, there has been an overwhelming sense of lost promise and squandered privilege.
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Huguely, 24, of Chevy Chase, stood stoic, but paler than he had been earlier in the day, as the verdict was read. Love’s mother, Sharon, and sister, Lexie, linked arms in a front-row bench. A whimper could be heard from Huguely’s side of the courtroom, where his grandmother sat in the front row with other relatives.
The jury also found Huguely guilty of stealing Love’s computer as he left her apartment. The panel sentenced Huguely to 25 years on the murder conviction, and one year for grand larceny. Circuit Court Judge Edward L. Hogshire can accept or lower, but not increase, the jury’s sentence.
“There’s nothing to make good the terrible tragedy done to the Love family,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Warner “Dave” Chapman said after Wednesday’s proceedings. “What we do in court is a rough approximation of justice. We hope they feel some solace.”
Each of the jurors reached after the verdict declined to comment.
As jurors began to consider Huguely’s sentence, Sharon and Lexie Love took the stand and emotionally described how their lives have changed.
The family still celebrates Love’s birthday and marked the anniversary of her death, Sharon Love testified.
Lexie Love, 28, said everything around her is a reminder of her lost sister: songs on the radio, photos of Yeardley’s friends, their childhood home near Baltimore, their family dog. She said Yeardley’s room and the bathroom they shared remain as they were before she died. “I don’t want to touch it or change it,” she said.
Still, Sharon Love said she worries that her sense of her daughter is slowly slipping away.
“Every year that goes by, I’m afraid I’m forgetting pieces of our life,” she said, sobbing.
Rhonda Quagliana, one of Huguely’s attorneys, urged the jurors to consider a lighter sentence. “No person is the sum of the worst decisions he’s ever made,” she said.
The verdict came after a two-week trial that centered on about 10 minutes in Love’s apartment during the on-and-off couple’s senior year. Jurors, who deliberated for about nine hours, weighed the “stupid drunk” and “boy athlete” portrayal of Huguely by the defense and the image of a controlling abuser put forward by prosecutors.