CHARLOTTESVILLE — In May of his senior year, with his lacrosse season behind him and his graduation from the University of Virginia just weeks away, George Huguely V sat in an interrogation room, his black “Police World Tour 2008” band shirt stark against the white-painted cinder-block wall, his beefy hands resting on the wood-laminate table.
Over 64 minutes on May 3, 2010, a video camera captured Huguely taking two detectives step by step through his final argument with his ex-girlfriend, Yeardley Love, after he kicked through her bedroom door “to talk” when he “was more emotional than angry.”
At first groggy, mumbling and staring, Huguely looked every bit the guy who, by his own description, had downed 14 drinks the night before and been rousted by a sharp knock on his door before 7:30 a.m. By the end of the video, he showed frustration, disbelief and signs of agony as police told him that Love, 22, was dead.
The Huguely on the video was bulkier than the Huguely at the defendant’s table in February as a jury watched the same video — on a monitor turned away from court spectators — before it convicted him of second-degree murder in Love’s death. Huguely, 24, of Chevy Chase, faces up to 26 years at sentencing, which is set for August. Like Huguely, Love, of Cockeysville, was a senior and varsity lacrosse player.
On Tuesday, the public got a chance to see the video and some other exhibits as part of an interim deal reached with Charlottesville Circuit Court in media outlets’ continuing legal challenge over access.
The screening, which will repeat Wednesday, put a face and body language to the stammers and curse words, the denials and explanations, the whimpers and finally the wails. Several times, Huguely said he thought he was being questioned about an assault. He wound up cuffed at the wrists and ankles — just above his flip-flops — after being told “you killed her.”
In addition to Huguely’s interview, glimpses of the landscape laid out in the two weeks of trial also appeared.
Pictures of Love’s apartment rolled on a monitor: the yellow honeycomb design of her pillowcase with a pool of blood at the center, where her roommate found her dead, facedown. Apple green pillows and a comforter with fleurs-de-lis, pulled aside after attempts to revive Love.
In Love’s bathroom, a curling iron and flat iron still plugged in. Above her bed — on a wall where Huguely told police that Love hit her head as she pleaded with him to go away — were eight pictures of smiling young women, a few familiar from witnesses’ appearances in which they described the couple’s earlier arguments. A “Just Us Girls” frame rested on a table, near it a photo of Love and her sister, Lexie, who turned 28 on the day she told jurors how much she missed her sister.
In Huguely’s room, a Bob Marley poster hung and brightly polished dress shoes rested near a nest of sports shoes and sandals.
In his interview, Huguely demonstrated how Love shrank back after he reached through the hole he had kicked in her door and undid the lock. He showed detectives how he clasped Love’s shoulders as she told him to “get out of here.”
A detective asked whether he “choked” Love. Huguely said, “I may have grabbed her a little bit by the neck . . . but I never strangled her . . . not like” and tightly interlocked his fingers in front of him.
Love was “flopping like a fish” when he tossed her on the bed with a bleeding nose, Huguely told police, but not so badly hurt that he thought she needed paramedics as he left around midnight, eight to 10 minutes after he estimated he had arrived. A medical examiner ruled that Love died of blunt-force trauma to her head.
About 40 minutes into the video, one detective said something that could not be heard in court. At trial, Huguely’s attorneys said she asked her partner, “Is it all right for him to know?”
And with that she told Huguely that Love was dead and “you killed her.”
For 10 seconds, an eternity of silence, Huguely stared. He whimpered, then he went into a loop: “She’s dead? She’s dead? She’s dead?”
Huguely demanded to see Love, saying again and again that “I didn’t hurt her.” He pulled at his hair, dropped his face into his hands, and finally sobbed and gasped, telling detectives: “I did not do anything that could kill her.”
“Now is the time to man up, George,” a detective said.
“I told you what happened. I told you what happened. I told you what happened,” Huguely said. His jaw clenched, he put his head down on his folded arms.
The video ended, Huguely outlined against the white cinder block.