UPDATE: 10:06 p.m. -- The jury recommends that former University of Virginia lacrosse player George Huguely serve 25 years for the murder of Yeardley Love. The jury also recommends a 1 year sentence for grand larceny charge, making a total of 26 years in prison.
UPDATE: 7:38 p.m. -- Following the guilty verdict, the jury immediately began deliberating a punishment for George Huguely. The defense declined to call any character witnesses during the sentencing phase. The court is now awaiting the jury's return with a decision.
George Huguely V was found guilty of second-degree murder and grand larceny in the 2010 death of his ex-girlfriend Yeardley Love, as a jury of seven men and five women ruled Thursday in the college town of Charlottesville, Va.
The 24-year-old former University of Virginia lacrosse player faces up to 40 years in prison, but the court will decide the specifics in the sentencing phase at a later date.
The jury reached the verdict after deliberating for approximately nine hours. About 60 witnesses -- including some of Huguely's former teammates -- took the stand in the 10-day trial.
Love died on May 3, 2010. She was a 22-year-old lacrosse player for the University of Virginia and was just weeks away from graduating. A roommate found her bleeding facedown on her bed and, thinking Love had consumed too much alcohol, called 911 around 2 a.m.
Police who went to her apartment discovered signs of a struggle and immediately began an investigation. Hours later, they questioned Huguely. In a recorded interview, he admitted that he went to Love's apartment to talk to her, but said they got into an altercation, which he described as "wrestling." Although Huguely said he "shook her a little" and "may have grabbed her a bit by the neck," he denied that he hit her or inflicted serious harm.
Police charged Huguely with her murder the next day and he has been in jail for about 21 months.
Love's death drew the attention of many across the country, as the story unfolded of a tumultuous relationship between privileged student athletes that broke into deadly violence.
Huguely was also charged with felony murder, burglary, robbery, statutory burglary and larceny stemming from the theft of Love's laptop the night of their altercation. The jury had to weigh whether he was guilty of premeditated homicide, but the judge said they could instead convict him of second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter, or acquit him entirely in Love's death.
Prosecutors and the defense pointed to the police interview as a crucial piece of evidence. To prosecutors, it was an admission that things got out of hand in Love's apartment. To the defense, it showed that Huguely didn't plan to kill his former girlfriend.
The jury also saw graphic photos of Love's bruised body and read emails sent between the victim and the defendant. Though the messages were not shown to the public, the prosecution said Huguely wrote, "I should have killed you" in one after he learned she met another man.
The jurors heard conflicting accounts of the cause of Love's death. The Virginia medical examiner's office concluded that she died from "blunt force trauma" to the head. That finding was used by prosecutors to allege that Huguely banged Love's head against the wall in a drunken burst of rage.
But a doctor called by the defense argued that Love suffocated from laying facedown on her pillow while blood filled her mouth. That witness, however, did not address how Love ended up in that position.
The former couple's on-again, off-again relationship was highly combustible. Love was seen once hitting Huguely with her purse in a bar, and the night before she died, the two allegedly got into an argument.
SEE PHOTOS FROM THE YEARDLEY LOVE AND GEORGE HUGUELY FILE:
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements.Learn more