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George Huguely Guilty: Jury Hands Down Verdict In College Lacrosse Murder Trial

First Posted: 02/22/2012 6:53 pm Updated: 02/22/2012 10:12 pm

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.

PREVIOUSLY:

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.

SEE A TIMELINE OF KEY EVENTS FROM DEATH OF YEARDLEY LOVE

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:

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  • George Huguely V was escorted into the Charlottesville Circuit courthouse in Charlottesville, Va., before jurors began deliberating on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012. Nine hours later, they found the former UVA lacrosse player guilty of second-degree murder in the death of his ex-girlfriend, Yeardley Love.

  • Commonwealth Attorney Warner Chapman, navigated the media while arriving at the Charlottesville Circuit courthouse in Charlottesville, Va., for the last day of his prosecution of George Huguely on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012. Chapman secured a guilty verdict on the charge of second-degree murder in the death of Huguely's ex-girlfriend, Yeardley Love.

  • George Huguely

    George Huguely V, right, is escorted by a sheriff's deputy as he arrives for his trial at the Charlottesville Circuit courthouse in Charlottesville, Va., on Friday, Feb. 17, 2012. Huguely was accused in the May 2010 slaying of Yeardley Love. The body of the 22-year-old woman was found battered in her apartment bedroom after what prosecutors say was one final, violent encounter with her former boyfriend. Huguely has pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder and other counts.

  • GeorgeHuguely V

    Former Virginia lacrosse player and convicted murderer George Huguely V is led to court for his sentencing in Charlottesville, Va., Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012. Huguely was sentenced to 26 years in prison for the alcohol-fueled beating death of his ex-girlfriend in 2010. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

  • Sharon Love, Lexie

    Sharon Love, left, mother of victim Yardley Love, and her daughter, Lexie, arrive at the Charlottesville Circuit courthouse for the sentencing of George Huguely V in Charlottesville, Va., Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012. Huguely was sentenced to 26 years in prison for the alcohol-fueled beating death of his ex-girlfriend in 2010. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

  • George Huguely

    In this courtroom sketch, George Huguely V, second from left, and his attorney, Francis McQ. Lawrence listen to Commonwealth Attorney Warner D. Chapman, right, as Judge Edward Hogshire, top right, listens during opening arguments in Huguely's trial at the Charlottesville Circuit Court in Charlottesville, Va, on Feb. 8, 2012. Huguely is on trial for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, fellow University of Virginia senior Yeardley Love.

  • Sharon & Lexie Love

    Sharon Love, mother of Yeardley Love, right, and her daughter, Lexie Love, left, leave the Charlottesville Circuit courthouse after another delay in the trial of George Huguely V in Charlottesville, Va., on Feb. 17, 2012. The trial was delayed due to illness of defense attorney Rhonda Quagliana.

  • George Huguely IV

    George Huguely IV arrives at the Charlottesville Circuit courthouse for the start of his son's trial in Charlottesville, Va, on Feb. 8, 2012. Huguely was on trial for the murder of fellow University of Virginia senior Yeardley Love.

  • Marta Murphy

    Marta Murphy, mother of George Huguely V, arrives at the Charlottesville Circuit courthouse for the start of her son's trial in Charlottesville, Va, on Feb. 8, 2012. Huguely was on trial for the murder of his former girlfriend, fellow University of Virginia senior Yeardley Love.

  • Sharon Love, mother of murder victim Yeardley Love, leaves court during a break after opening arguments in the trial of George Huguely V at Charlottesville Circuit Court in Charlottesville, Va. Huguely was on trial for the murder of Yeardley Love, his former girlfriend.

  • George Huguely Trial

    Court officials deliver evidence to the Charlottesville Circuit Courthouse for the trial of George Huguely V in Charlottesville, Va., on Feb. 17, 2012. Huguely, 24, of Chevy Chase, Md., was charged with first-degree murder in the May 2010 killing of his sometimes-girlfriend and fellow lacrosse player, Yeardley Love.

  • A much skinnier George Huguely enters the court house.

  • George Huguely sits with defense attorneys Rhonda Quagliana and Francis Lawrence.

  • George Huguely stands before Judge Edward Hogshire, alongside his defense attorneys Rhonda Quagliana and Francis Lawrence.

  • George Huguely's mug shot from his arrest in 2010.

  • Media vehicles gathered outside the court house.

  • Reporters line up to enter the courtroom.

  • Yeardley Love and George Huguely, seen in a photo together at a party. The two had dated and since Love's death, UVA has tried to increase awareness of programs available to help those in abusive relationships.

  • Yeardley Love was a lacrosse player at UVA.

  • GeorgeHuguely V

    Former Virginia lacrosse player and convicted murderer George Huguely V is led to court for his sentencing in Charlottesville, Va., Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012. Huguely was sentenced to 26 years in prison for the alcohol-fueled beating death of his ex-girlfriend in 2010. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

  • GeorgeHuguely V

    Former Virginia lacrosse player and convicted murderer George Huguely V is led to court for his sentencing in Charlottesville, Va., Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012. Huguely was sentenced to 26 years in prison for the alcohol-fueled beating death of his ex-girlfriend in 2010. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

  • GeorgeHuguely V

    Defense attorneys for Geroge Huguely V Francis McQ. Lawrence, right, and Rhonda Quagliana, arrive at the Charlottesville Circuit courthouse for the sentencing of Huguely V in Charlottesville, Va., Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012. Huguely was sentenced to 26 years in prison for the alcohol-fueled beating death of his ex-girlfriend in 2010. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

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Filed by Michael McLaughlin  |