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Preliminary hearing postponed in U-Va. lacrosse slaying

By Mary Pat Flaherty
Monday, January 10, 2011; 12:37 PM

A preliminary hearing for a former University of Virginia lacrosse player accused of killing a women's lacrosse player was postponed after about 10 minutes of back and forth between attorneys.

George Huguely V, 23, of Chevy Chase, was scheduled to appear at Monday's hearing over closed-circuit television. But he waived his right to appear in a filing by his defense team Friday. The filing came after prosecutors added new charges of felony murder, robbery of a residence, burglary, entering a house with an intent to commit a felony and grand larceny.

Huguely already was facing a first-degree murder charge in the May 3 death of his former girlfriend Yeardley Love, who also played lacrosse at the university.

Monday's hearing was scheduled so Huguely could hear those new charges.

Huguely has been held without bond in the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail since his arrest within hours after the body of Love, 22 of Cockeysville, was found by a roommate at her off campus apartment. Love was face down on her bedroom pillow in a pool of blood, court records show.

She and Huguely were seniors at the time of her death and Love had recently broken off their dating relationship, police said in earlier court filings.

Francis McQ. Lawrence, an attorney for Huguely asked the court to delay a scheduled Jan. 21 preliminary hearing on the first-degree murder charge. Huguely was entitled to appear in court to hear that request.

Because he has an attorney and because he is held without bond, he did not need to be present to hear the five new charges, his attorneys told the court. The lead prosecutor, Warner D. "Dave" Chapman, Commonwealth's Attorney for Charlottesville, agreed to continue the Jan. 21 hearing on the first-degree murder charge.

Police have said in previous court filings that Huguely said he saw Love bleeding after he had a fight with her and her head hit a wall.

His lawyers have said Love's death was "an accident with a tragic outcome." In a statement released Friday, the defense team from the Charlottesville firm of St. John, Bowling, Lawrence & Quagliana said it had expected the additional charges "and we have been fully prepared to defend against them. We think it is significant that the amended charges acknowledge that there was no premeditation."

The original first-degree murder charge obliges prosecutors to prove Huguely intended to kill Love when, as police said he told them, he kicked down her door in the early morning of May 3. The recently added felony murder charge covers a killing committed during the commission or attempt to commit another felony, which police said in Friday filings was a robbery or burglary.

Neither murder charge filed in the case carries the possibility of a death sentence.

Police have said that Huguely told them on the night of Love's death he took a computer from her apartment and then dumped it in a trash container, where police later found it He had also said, according to police, that he and Love had emailed each other in the days before their final argument.

In December, police filed a a search warrant for the cell phone that Huguely had with him at his arrest. That warrant sought to look for emails and text-messages that Huguely sent to Love or that mentioned Love.

No new date has been set for the preliminary hearing.

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