Jurors leaned toward the screen, one wiping her eyes. Love’s mother and sister stared coldly at Huguely.
“I never did anything that could do that to her,” Huguely, now 24, said on the tape.
Prosecutors played the 90-minute video on the third day of testimony in Huguely’s trial, turning the screen toward the jury but away from a rapt and silent courtroom audience that could only hear it. It was the first time jurors heard Huguely’s voice.
In that interview, recorded only hours after Love was found dead early May 3, 2010, Huguely said that the on-and-off couple, both University of Virginia seniors, fought and that he “shook her a little” but did not hit her in the face. He said she hit her own head against the wall and that he didn’t think she was seriously hurt when he left.
The taped exchange between Charlottesville Detective Lisa Reeves and Huguely was rhythmic and chilling as she told him that the woman he had dated for two years was dead.
Reeves: “I have to tell you something. She’s dead. You killed her.”
Huguely: “She’s dead?”
Reeves: “You know.”
Huguely: “She’s dead? She’s dead? She’s dead?” and with his voice rising, “How?”
Huguely has pleaded not guilty to murder and five other charges in connection with Love’s death. The two were accomplished lacrosse players on the verge of graduation: Huguely from Chevy Chase; and Love, 22, from Cockeysville, Md.
By Huguely’s telling on the tape, he had gone to Love’s apartment late May 2 “just to talk” about running arguments in a relationship that had turned tumultuous over romantic betrayals.
Love told him to go away when he knocked on her bedroom door, he says on the tape. When she didn’t let him in, he kicked through the door to reach in and unlock it — an admission he makes only after a detective repeatedly presses him about how he had gotten into the room.
Love “was all freaked out just at seeing me. . . .
She was getting all, like, really defensive,” Huguely says. He also said “she kept hitting her head against the wall,” telling him that she didn’t want to discuss things.
“I shook her a little bit,” Huguely tells the detective. When asked about a bruise on Love’s neck, he says: “I may have grabbed her a little bit around the neck . . . but I never strangled her.”
Huguely also says “I never struck her” and “I never hit her in the face.”
A medical examiner has ruled that Love died of blunt force trauma to the head. Huguely’s defense team has suggested to jurors that she could have died of an irregular heartbeat brought on by the prescription drug she took for an attention disorder.
Huguely was at Love’s for less than 10 minutes, he estimated. “I was more emotional than I would say ‘angry.’ ”