Jurors on Wednesday will begin the work of deciding whether Huguely murdered Love in 2010 or whether his actions amount to a lesser crime — or none at all.
Depending on what they find, Huguely, 24, of Chevy Chase could face a maximum sentence of life in prison.
To reach their decision, jurors will have to sort through some finer points of Virginia law as they review the testimony of 56 witnesses and hundreds of exhibits. But they also were instructed to apply their common sense as they decide what happened in the 10 minutes or so that Huguely said he was inside Love’s apartment.
The portrayals of Huguely from either side of the courtroom couldn’t be more different, yet each believes its view is borne out by the former University of Virginia lacrosse player’s words and swings of emotions as he spoke to detectives May 3, 2010, just hours after Love was found dead.
The Huguely presented by prosecutors is a controlling, threatening and abusive boyfriend who callously left Love bleeding when he walked out on her after an assault.
To the defense team, Huguely is a cad, not a calculating killer, “a stupid drunk” but not an aggressive one, and a “boy athlete” who made one too many bad decisions that led to a “tragedy” but not a murder.
Seven men and seven women heard the evidence, and two will be dismissed as alternates, leaving a dozen who will deliberate to reach a verdict.
The jurors are not told what sentence each charge carries as they weigh whether Huguely caused the death of his sometime girlfriend. Like Huguely, Love, 22, of Cockeysville, Md. was a lacrosse player and U-Va. senior.
Even with the elimination of alternates, the jury will retain at least one member with hands-on experience in medicine or scientific research to help sort the complex testimony from experts who came to different conclusions about how Love died.
The Virginia medical examiner’s office ruled that she suffered blunt force trauma to the head; a neuropathologist who testified for the defense said Love probably suffocated after she was thrown into her pillow, which was wet with blood.
Among the 14 jurors still in play, there is a pediatrician with 16 years of experience, including caring for three patients with brain injuries; a U-Va. microbiologist; and a research scientist at the university. The others include a man whose brother struggled with alcohol. Jurors are not named in court, but snippets of information about them surfaced during jury selection.
The jurors are allowed to take notes, and most have been — some scribbling intently during the exhaustive medical testimony, others paying heightened attention to the heated and profane e-mails Huguely and Love exchanged and the testimony of witnesses who said they had “hooked up” with Huguely or Love in trysts that enflamed the couple’s battles.