Final motions: Judge allows graphic photos in Huguely trial
In anticipation of the largest murder trial Charlottesville has seen, a final hearing was held on Friday, with attorneys for accused girlfriend-killer George Huguely unsuccessful in keeping what they called "prejudicial" photos of slain UVA student Yeardley Love from being admitted as evidence. They were, however, able to prevent news photographers from getting perp-walk photos of Huguely as he moves in and out of the courthouse, at least while the jury is being chosen.
The trial of Huguely for the 2009 death of Love just weeks before the two were to graduate from UVA began Monday, February 6, with jury selection is expected to last two days.
In the February 3 hearing, defense attorney Fran Lawrence asked Judge Edward Hogshire to keep approximately 10 photos of Love from being admitted.
He objected to photographs that Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapmen said were supposed to tell the story of her missing computer, which police say Huguely admitted taking. Photos that showed her empty computer case and followed Internet cables around the room also showed her body on the floor where she'd been moved by fellow students to perform CPR.
"Her foot doesn't need to be in there," Lawrence said of one photo.
"You don't alter the photographs," countered Chapman.
Lawrence also complained about a series of pictures that showed the injuries on Love's face, and included her chest. "Why do you need to show the body from the shoulders down?" asked the judge.
Lawrence objected to autopsy photos of Love, including some with views of her brain, but Chapman insisted the photos were necessary to show her injuries. "They're an accurate picture of what was found," said the prosecutor, and Judge Hogshire ruled that all could be entered.
A fence has been put up in the rear of Charlottesville Circuit Court where prisoners are usually delivered to the courthouse, and NBC29's news director, David Foky, asked the judge to consider allowing a pool photographer and videographer.
"Our concern is that the photography barrier that's been set up is unprecedented and prevents us from getting the defendant coming to the case," said Foky.
Reminding the judge that the jury was not being sequestered and that the public doesn't have a right to see Huguely arrive at court, defense attorney Rhonda Quagliana objected. "That kind of photo has an effect," she said."It's very prejudicial. There's no right to it."
The judge agreed,
Meanwhile, the University of Virginia offered support to its students during the upcoming trial. In an email from Pat Lampkin, vice president of student affairs, students were directed to resources should they become emotionally distressed during the trial, get approached by media, or feel concerned about the safety of a friend or acquaintance.
On February 2, UVA law professor Anne Coughlin led a discussion to let students know about the differences between first-degree murder, second-degree murder and manslaughter.
The trial is expected to last two weeks.