George Huguely V’s family asks for leniency

Attorneys for George Huguely V are asking a judge to sentence the Chevy Chase native and former University of Virginia lacrosse player to 14 years rather than the 26 years set by a jury in the 2010 death of Yeardley Love, his ex-girlfriend.

Their appeal in a sentencing memorandum was filed Wednesday, a day before Huguely, 24, is set to hear his prison term from Charlottesville Circuit Court Judge Edward L. Hogshire.

The court filing also contains testimonials to Huguely from his mother, grandmother, and more than a dozen others who describe him as loyal, protective and religious, even as some also describe the impact alcohol abuse had on him.

In February, a Charlottesville jury convicted Huguely of second-degree murder in Love’s death during an argument at her off-campus apartment. The jury also found Huguely guilty of stealing Love’s computer as he left.

The panel sentenced Huguely to 25 years on the murder conviction and one year for grand larceny. Hogshire can accept or lower the jury’s sentence but not increase it.

More than one relative calls Huguely “Georgie” in the remarks — a nickname that also arose during his trial.

Huguely’s mother, Marta Murphy of Chevy Chase, says in the sentencing memo that “We love Georgie deeply and will stand by him forever.” She asks the judge to “please have mercy and be lenient” on “my beautiful son.”

Shortly after Huguely’s arrest, his mother had said that Love had become part of the family’s life. She repeats that in the court filing: “I don’t have enough words to express my deep sorrow for the loss of Yeardley’s life.”

Huguely’s parents have been divorced since 1998. The sentencing memo does not mention comments from Huguely’s father, George Huguely IV of Potomac, who was with his son in Charlottesville playing golf and going to dinner in the hours before Huguely went to talk to Love about their tempestuous relationship.

In a taped police interview, Huguely admitted leaving Love bleeding after kicking through her bedroom door following a day of drinking and then shaking her and wrestling with her during an argument over their breakup. Friends and teammates testified that Huguely’s drinking had become so uncontrolled that they had discussed an intervention to get him help after school ended — but his final argument with Love occurred first.

“Despite his immaturity at the time of the offenses and his heavy use of alcohol, his background demonstrates that he is capable of being rehabilitated and integrated into society” and has the “traits and characteristics” to contribute “a great deal to his community,” the sentencing memo states.

Love was found facedown in a bloody pillow by a roommate in the early hours of May 3, 2010, and Huguely was arrested by dawn. She died of blunt-force trauma to her head, a medical examiner ruled.

Love, 22, was from the Baltimore suburb of Cockeysville. Like Huguely, she was a senior at the school and a varsity lacrosse player.

The 14 years cited by the defense would be at the low end of Virginia sentencing guidelines for the convictions, the defense team noted. The sentence would be appropriate because of Huguely’s “negligible criminal record” and the absence of aggravating circumstances attorneys Francis McQ. Lawrence and Rhonda Quagliana wrote.

Huguely would serve at least 85 percent of his term under Virginia sentencing rules. He has been held in the Charlottesville jail since his arrest, time that could be credited to him and — if a 26-year sentenced is imposed — would leave him with about 20 years to serve.

Virginia has not had parole since 1995, and inmates can trim no more than 15 percent from their sentences by earning credits in prison programs and serving time without incident, said Meredith Farrar-Owens, director of the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission.

The testimonials filed Wednesday by the defense include one from a family friend and parent who spent years sharing carpool trips with Huguely and called him “unfailingly polite and contrite.” Another was from a college friend of Huguely’s who tells of getting a jailhouse phone call from Huguely after the friend’s grandmother died.

Max Pomper, who was captain of the men’s lacrosse team during one of Huguely’s playing years, said he was impressed with Huguely’s faith in “rarely” missing a Sunday Mass while in school. “George is in no way perfect” but “tried his best to be a good person while I was privileged to know him.”

Huguely did not testify at his trial, where he appeared leaner, clean-shaven and with shorter hair than during his lacrosse days and in his taped police statement. It is not known whether he will speak at his sentencing.

Warner “Dave” Chapman, commonwealth’s attorney for Charlottesville, did not file a sentencing memo in the case.

Love’s mother, Sharon Love, has filed two civil lawsuits since the trial, at which she testified about learning of her daughter’s death and the impact of the killing.

In one pending lawsuit, she claims that Huguely wrongfully caused her daughter’s death. In the second, she said the university and several officials in the athletic department were negligent and ignored signs of Huguely’s erratic and violent behavior.

Huguely had a prior arrest and pleaded guilty in a drunken encounter with a Lexington, Va., police officer in the fall of his junior year, court records show. The officer subdued him with a Taser, the officer said in court. University officials said had they known about that event, Huguely probably would have been suspended or expelled.

The murder case led to new layers of security at U-Va., including a requirement that at the start of each school year students report whether they have been arrested or convicted of anything other than minor traffic infractions.

Huguely had been the starting football quarterback, an honor-roll student and a lacrosse all-American at the renowned Landon School in Bethesda before heading to U-Va., where he was an anthropology major, according to his online team biography.

Love had been a four-year member of the lacrosse and field hockey teams at Notre Dame Preparatory School in Towson, where a new field for lacrosse, soccer and field hockey is scheduled to be dedicated in her honor Sept. 9.

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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