A jury is preparing to decide the fate of George Huguely V, and begin deliberating Wednesday whether the former college lacrosse player beat his ex-girlfriend to death.
Huguely, 24, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and five other charges. If convicted of the May 2010 killing of Yeardley Love, also a University of Virginia lacrosse player, Huguely could be sentenced to anywhere from one day to life in prison, ABC News reported.
The small-town jury of 12 jurors and two alternates in Charlottesville, Va., is made of seven men and seven women. Besides the first-degree murder count, they could also find Huguely guilty of lesser charges including second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter, as USA Today reported.
Prosecutors claim that Huguely went to Love's apartment around midnight, kicked down her bedroom door and killed her by banging her head against the wall. His defense admits he was in her room prior to her death and concedes that the former couple got into an altercation, but his lawyers argue that Love's death was accidental and possibly caused by a medical condition.
During closing arguments on Saturday, both sides urged the jury to pay close attention to the taped police interview recorded hours after Love died, according to the Washington Post.
On that tape, Huguely said he shook Love and perhaps grabbed her neck, but insists he didn't inflict serious bodily harm on her.
The medical examiner who performed Love's autopsy says she died from a "blunt force trauma to the head," while a doctor called by the defense says she probably suffocated from lying face down on her bed while blood pooled in her mouth.
The jury has seen a batch of photos of Love's beaten body and email messages between the on-again, off-again couple that were not shown to the public. However, Virginia prosecutors said Huguely wrote in an email to Love, "I should have killed you."
Defense attorney Francis Lawrence implored the jury to dismiss the most serious charges against Huguely. "George bears responsibility in her death," Lawrence said, according to CBS News. "He played a role in that, and he will take responsibility for it in a way you determine."
If the jury convicts Huguely, the trial would shift to the sentencing phase. More witnesses, like Huguely's parents, would testify and the lawyers would make another set of closing arguments, ABC News reported. The jury would then deliberate on a penalty to suggest to the judge hearing the case.
SEE PHOTOS FROM THE GEORGE HUGEULY AND YEARDLEY LOVE FILE:
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