Huguely on trial: Slimmer-- as analyst describes his chances

A jury selection in the first-degree murder trial of George Huguely V began Monday, February 6. The Hook's legal analyst, besides noting that this is the biggest career moment for the lawyers involved, ventured a guess that the 24-year-old defendant won't leave court a free man. More on that below.

While the jury selection process wasn't set to start until 9:30am, Huguely bypassed the phalanx of media by arriving well before then in a law enforcement van. Also arriving long before session were the mother and sister of slain lacrosse player Yeardley Love, dropped off in the back parking lot of the Charlottesville Circuit Courthouse.

The last of the major players to arrive was the legal team of Fran Lawrence and Rhonda Quagliana, who made the three-block walk from their Park Street office to the Charlottesville Circuit Court around 8:45am.

It was a tedious first day in court on Monday as judge Edward Hogshire began winnowing his pool of 160 jurors down to a manageable level– 12 official jurors and three alternates– with several prospectives dismissed by noting that they've already formed an opinion about Huguely's guilt, with several saying they'd keep an open mind, and some surprising the gallery by saying they'd never before heard of the case.

Both sides of the courtroom were filled with family members– with Love's mother and sister notable in pink apparel, seemingly a symbol of the One Love Foundation, established in the wake of the young woman's May 3, 2010 death.

As for Huguely, he looked smaller and thinner than previous photographs indicated. A buzz haircut evident in one oft-seen mugshot has been replaced by a stylish trim, and prison stripes have been replaced by a business suit that seemed to swallow the former varsity lacrosse player who once stood 6'2" and weighed 209 pounds. He stands accused of brutally beating and killing the much-smaller Love in her 14th Street apartment.

One prominent exile from the jury pool was Albemarle County Planning Director Wayne Cilimberg, who revealed a family connection to defense attorney Lawrence. Another man, describing himself as a Certified Public Accountant, made little headway when pleading for an exit due to the press of tax-prep season. The judge seemed unmoved until the man revealed that he'd already formed an opinion– dismissed!

"The lawyers are bending over backwards to get a fair jury," says Hook legal analyst David Heilberg, who slipped inside to watch part of the proceedings. "One bad juror and you have a hung jury."

As for the outcome, Heilberg figures there will be a conviction.

"It's all about the intent the Commonwealth can prove: first- or second-degree," predicts Heilberg. "I don't think it's going down to manslaughter, but maybe there's some big revelation the defense can't tell us yet."

–with additional reporting by Courteney Stuart, edited for print publication at 11:44am Tuesday, February 7. Original headline: "Opening day: Lawyers, media gird for trial of a lifetime"

This story is a part of the Huguely trial coverage special.
Read more on: George Huguely


More shots of Rhonda, please!

Don't know how those two defense lawyers sleep at night with what they do. A big resounding BOOOOO! to them.

everyone has a right to fair representation...even if they're guilty as sin.

@Mighty Horse. Absolutely, but does insinuating that the victim's use of prescription medication had a role in her death fall into the "fair representation" bracket?

They are ethically required to make the best defense possible. If that is all they have, they have to go with it.

I just keep thinking of the movie "Devil's Advocate."

@ Jeremy

They could also refuse to take the case.

Nobody makes any lawyer take their case. They choose to. And then they choose to come up with whatever outlandish scenario they can dream up for the defense, all so they can cushion their own bank accounts down the line when it comes time for the big pay day. Cause that's just how our world rolls, apparently.

Just sayin'.

They should make him get one of Charlottesvilles finest public defender's. With these two he may, actually be able to buy justice. Money seems too work other places, why not Charlottesville?

As I have grown older I find I think everyone should get a public defender. No one should be allowed to get their own attorney in crimes like this. Puts everyone on an even playing field.

Old Timer, how is it a level playing field if prosecuting attorneys get better pay/benefits, in general, than public defenders?

@Cows ... yes, it does. it's the defense attorney's job to cast doubt on the prosecutors case. obviously the defense is grasping at straws. all we can hope is that the prosecutor is good enough and the jury is smart enough to cut through the b.s.

the flip side of the coin is that there are a lot of innocent people out there who get put away b/c their public defenders were incompetent, ill-prepared or just didn't care. i don't disagree that defense attorneys have difficult and sometimes insidious jobs. but they're a necessary evil. if we didn't have them, then anyone accused of a crime would end up in jail b/c no one was willing to stand up for them.

Well, it might encourage folks to get better public defenders, and have a bit more appreciation for the process. We don't have to have poorly paid public defenders.

hee hee, can you imagine any attempt at a law that makes all trial lawyers (prosecution and defense) public employees? the cash spent in opposition would make the lobby that got together to ruin the perfectly good idea of a public option in health insurance look like a kiddie carnival.

Just saying the tax payers of Va. should be glad the family is bankrupting themselves paying the defense. Rhonda & Fran are probably getting $300 hour each. He could have declared bankruptcy and let the state public defenders take up the defense and we'd be stuck with the bill.


The problem isn't a blanket generalization of all defense lawyers then, it's just the ones who take on the cases of those who are *quite* obviously guilty. Those cases where even the lawyers know they did it and just shake their heads. But they take it anyway, then try to find clever ways out for their client.....all to cushion their own bank account. Not because it's the just or morally right thing to do. But if you're defending somebody where it's obvious that they're truly innocent, where a gross injustice has taken place, and you can make a living on that, then great, more power to you. But defending somebody who you *know* is guilty, and where you're grasping at straws with outlandish scenarios to try to get them off? Unconscionable. I don't know how those sorts sleep at night. But that's just me.

I'm sure the business suit is intended to make him look sort of pathetic and weak; if they wanted to get him a suit that fit, they could have.

@Sam - $300 an hour - who are you kidding? Try $500 minimum and probably a huge retainer. I know divorce attorneys that charged that in C'ville 20+ years ago! Mark my words - he-will-walk. I'm just sayin'.

Outrageous they keep mentioning manslaughter he murdered yeardley
This case should have been tried a year ago so jury could have looked at what yeardley saw 6'2 210 pound hulk

It should have been 1st degree with compromise of life
Now we are talking manslaughter maximum 10 years he will be out in 4 28 years old
He could kill many more girls have children abuse them too
If this animal gets manslaughter then justice is dead

Stew, prosecuters already are public employees, either state or federal. So are public defenders.

Please remember who the victim was in this case..............

Yeardleywasmurdered, welcome to Charlottesville.

Huguely is simply the wrong color and wrong tax bracket to be convicted of murder and to serve more than 10 years. Did I mention that this is Charlottesville?

He was golfing at Farmington earlier in the day. There is no way that he will server more than a decade.

"But defending somebody who you *know* is guilty, and where you're grasping at straws with outlandish scenarios to try to get them off? Unconscionable."

That's it Booo.

There is more than one defendant in this case. While it seems clear who the actual murderer is, the other defendant in this case is the University of Virginia. The University created the alcohol and drug fuelled culture that caused this death. The University created the culture that allows and encourages violent behavior towards women. The University condones daily the behavior that it permits from its teams. At UVA winning isn't everything, it is the only thing. The same culture allows special treatment for male football and basketball players. If every UVA student were allowed to take the same "gut" courses that the jocks take, the State of Virginia would have more Ph.D's than fish in the sea. It is time for UVA to own up to the many ways it has failed its students. Time for some big changes. Alumni who really care about their degrees will cease to support the school financially. One death is one death too many.

I'm bummed there's no possibility of capital punishment in this case. In a just world, Mr. Huguely would be hanged, or perhaps even strangled to death like Vercingetorix in old Roman fashion.

Its sad all around. No winners. He has to go to jail. He is a poorly raised rich kid, who fell into the additionally destructive world of privileged college athlete. His parents ought to be prosecuted,too for creating his damaged and dangerous personality, and his coaches might have paid better attention towards shaping him as a young man, too. He acted like a large, dangerous child viciously smashing his favorite toy when the batteries ran out.

Dave Heilberg is right to remind people that this case is about intent. Did George Huguely premeditate to rob Yeardley Love of her life in the most brutal fashion? There's no question that he acted without restraint and that she's dead at his hands. But murder is a specific crime that speaks to the culprit's state of mind and from what I understand that's the question the jury will be asked to decide.

I was not there. I do not know what these two people were thinking. All I know is the words of others.

Sean Cannan (Matt Dolan) wrote,

"The University created the alcohol and drug fuelled culture that caused this death."

UVa's drug/alcohol culture is a subset of the larger one in our society. For your statement to be true, UVa students would have to have come here never having used alcohol and drugs before and would begin only once they get here as a direct result of UVa's efforts.

"The University created the culture that allows and encourages violent behavior towards women."

Same same.

"The University condones daily the behavior that it permits from its teams. At UVA winning isn't everything, it is the only thing. The same culture allows special treatment for male football and basketball players. If every UVA student were allowed to take the same "gut" courses that the jocks take..."

Describe the special treatment male football and basketball players are getting, with specifics. List the "gut" courses that athletes take, and describe the ways in which non-athletes are prohibited from taking those same courses.

Just suppose they can't find a sufficient jury pool- and he changes to a guilty plea. That would be better for all concerned.
After all there is no question he attacked her and she died. Its not like claiming some other person was responsible- thats the only grounds he would be truly innocent on if it could be proven.

Think the UVA fix is in? Why else do you think it took so long to get this to trial?

Delay, delay, delay until the powers that be can work their usual magic. VOILA! Huguely walks or gets a slap on the wrist.

Another UVA snot gets away with something.

So much for noblesse oblige. More like let 'em eat cake.

As someone who has attended the university, I can agree that many of the students are pampered, and UVA let too much go on under Casteen, but some of the comments about it is ridiculous.

Part of what is happening is a much wider culture of tolerance for violence against women, and tolerance for behaviour that is all over the USA, not just UVA. Its time we start pushing back, and in a serious way, instead of focusing all the ire against UVA. I think they have brought in the lady to deal with it, give her your support and put pressure on her. Put pressure on to let honour council chuck students out.

That's "are ridiculous" not "is ridiculous".

Personally, I don't know why there is even a differntiation between "manslaughter" at the hands of somebody who was filled with rage/passion and temporarily lost control of their inhibitions, and then somebody who planned out the murder of somebody ahead of time. *THE END RESULT IS STILL THE SAME.* And that's where our judicial system is failing, BIG time. There should be no differentiation. It shouldn't even be an argument about whether "Did George Huguely premeditate to rob Yeardley Love of her life in the most brutal fashion?" "Intent" is one of those things that the modern "justice" system has invented, and which defense lawyers milk for every last drop.

The only time manslaughter should be an option is when it's truly involuntary, and somebody's own mishap accidentally results in somebody else's domino chain effect death.

(ps add on to my previous post)

(Which means, if you're drunk and slam your car into somebody and kill them, then that would also be murder, because the end result is the unnatural, premature death - ie, murder - of another human being. Nobody should get "involuntary manslaughter" for that either.)

It's just peeving me the way these defense lawyers are nitpicking for any loophole to get this guy less time.

This hasn't taken long to get to trial. Its a pretty big case. He will be found guilty of something higher than manslaughter but I doubt it will be first degree (premeditated). He will be locked up for many years IMO.

PODCAST: The Hook's Hawes Spencer and Courteney Stuart comment on Day One of Jury Selection in the George Huguely trial.

"he is slim- just like his chances" how can the hook claim to be balanced with a title like that? what about the naked occupy chick "she's very large- just like the burden they place on the system"
absurd how transparent this psuedo reporting is.

He went there with the intent to make sure it was his way or the highway and when she chose the highway he made sure she wasn't leaving, (by any means nessasaryy) then he MURDERED her. His intention was to get his way. She is not dating anyone else so he got what he came for. He killed her in an attempt to persuade her to see his point of view. He is an adult and experieneced enough as a lacrosse player to know the risks of physical actions. The only question a juror needs to ask themselves is whether this guy is intelligent enough to know which is more fragile, this poor girls skull or a wall made of 2x4s.

He should have plead to 2nd degree and life and spared everyone concerned all of this.

Because of who he is he will put her family through this,try and discredit her and the only possible decent side efect will be that his family is bankrupted in the process.

I am sure his lawyers are billing at 2500 an hour by the way...

You can see the evidence and think he's got a slim chance based on what the public has been told. It's the equivalent of being caught red (bloody) handed, which he was. He needs a fair hearing of the facts but that can be done even though there seems to be a mountain of evidence against him. Will the defense try and say he didn't do it- doubtful. This is about what he gets found guilty of.

I mean really does ANYONE believe that he didn't kill her? I don't think his lawyers will even argue that- it's only about the amount of time Hugely will do.

Has Sean Cannan (Matt Dolan) been banned under his own name? His standard rant is hard to miss and has never once been convincing.

UVA isn't on trial. George Huguely is and will almost certainly be found guilty of something. What that is will be up to a jury to decide, not people posting here.

@Pete: Okay, thanks for the feedback. I just tinkered with the headline some more. Maybe you'll like this one better?--hawes spencer

I have no problem with that- a quote or opinion from an outside source is different then an one offered by the source (supposedly impartial), and in what claims to be a progressive and blind eye town, I dont think comments on size are appropriate for men if they are going to be vilified when made about women

This story is on CNN so it is more than a local story only for locals to opine on . In my jurisdiction if a person can show they were totally under the influence of drugs or alcohol then it is case law that they don't have the capacity to form intent to commit murder . I don't know the details of this charge yet so that circumstance may not apply here . Many cases have been acquited from even lesser charges when the person was very highly intoxicated .This is typical where everyone are victims of some sort but the defense will have to work on the reduced capacity factor weither due to substance,otherwise inherent mental imbalance,heat of the moment lover/x-lover disputes,youth, etc.etc....There will be a bottomless barrel of similiar cases to refer to at trial whereby the assailant got off with less punishment than many would agree with .

Buba in lockup can't get a 5th to drink but he will soon have a DC suburban the 5th or V.


I truly hope he is convicted in a fair trial that can not be appealed. (The realist in me says no.)

We have seen with all of society (not just UVA) that justice does not always prevail. Perhaps in the next life it will. I also hope this is a wake-up call to all of you out there who have mothers, sisters, daughters and granddaughters that we must preserve all life, even that of a "mere woman". That not only is this type of brutality not tolerated but also rape, harassment etc. I know there are men out there who are truly gentleman and abide by this code but there are so many others who do not. We also must raise our sons and grandsons to know this behavior is not tolerated or accepted.

I hope he is convicted. I hope this is the one case that sends a ripple out to all to take a second look at how they treat all and how we raise our children. Too many out there are not taking responsibility for their actions and believe they are somehow entitled for different treatment because they are "x" or "y". Who cares? Think of how much time and expense this trial is costing not just his family in legal fees but our city, the University and the community.

And if it is - it would be a legacy for Yeardley (beautiful name) and the many other women.

The temporary dissasociated state of mind seems to be an issue the defense will explore here . There was a woman in Calgary Alberta who was married to the Chairman of Canadian Tire . That is a large retail auto/hardware chain north of the border . He told her he was going to divorce her so she took a pistol and pumped 6 rounds into his back in the home garage and left him to blead to death . She taunted him for awhile and left him to die . A miracle happened in that someone heard the shots ,investigated,got emergency medical to the hospital and he lived . SHE ADMITTED TO EVERYTHING .That was cold calculated ,premediated attempted Murphy to anyone thinking objectively . Due to her being married to a very wealthy man she could afford a high priced defense . The teams psychologist claimed she was in a temporary dissociated state due to being dumped by her hubby and was ,therefore,not capable of controlling her actions . She was acquitted of everything and let go scot free . On the way home from the court house ,she had the lemo driver stop at the booze store to load up for her total victory celebration ...

P.S. Quoting the case of Earl Jodrie ,Calgary head of Gulf Canada,head of Canadian Tire and several other companies VS his wife who was known there as the Hostess with the Mostess ----

Huguely's parents didn't murder Love, nor did UVA, the only culprit in this crime is Huguely himself. Stop trying to blame others in the process. For those that disparage defense attorneys, just realize that while the system has flaws, our motto of innocent until proven guilty is the ONLY fair way to run a judicial system. Take a look at many foreign countries and look at their due process. We're lucky to have the system in place that is set up to give a fair, impartial trial by a jury of ones peers. And wealth is wealth, if I can afford a high priced attorney I would certainly pay one, but isn't it nice that we have court appointed attorneys to represent those less fortunate.

I'm hoping he does not get off with time served. That would be such a miscarriage of justice. I wonder if they had him lose the weight pre-trial so that there could be some excuse that included steriods or like someone else has mentioned, he will seem so less intimidating. Thank goodness for all the lax stats and bios that all have him over 200 lbs. I feel certain he will get something significant because of the felony murder charge, which is vague enough...I hope.
I'm like many of you too in thinking that he will get off with little or nothing, but since he killed someone I would consider equal in social and economic status and also an athlete, I'm hoping justice will be served.

I am somewhat bemused by the fact that we are two years away from the crime, and are just now seating a jury. Remember the 19 year old, Demonte Burgess, who also committed a murder. He and GH were in the same jail at the same time for similar crimes. Interesting though. Burgess was tried, convicted and sentenced by October of 2010. So yeah, money may not buy justice, but it sure can delay it.

The suit is intentionally too big to make a person look smaller and less threatening

"Booo" always makes me think of the movie Princess Bride, where an old woman yells boo at the princess!!

The Connonwealth should have charged him with capital murder and asked for the death penalty. Then he may have entered a guilty plea to first degree with a life sentence. Would have saved all the trouble and expense of a lengthy trial.

Commonwealth not Connonwealth

The defendant has a right to a speedy trial in Virginia. Sometimes they enforce that right for tactical reasons, sometimes they don't, also for tactical reasons.

Downtown Brown - yes, he is on trial BUT his behavior is not far from many in our society which has been raised by our society. Many have noted the attitude of not being accountable for actions and for believing they were above it. Well, he is facing reality but how the outcome will be we don't know.

Yes, if you have the funds, pay for a good attorney (not all good ones charge an arm and a leg - in fact the better ones don't and make more on the volume of cases and clients). But when you are appointed an attorney here in the US or anywhere else - you get very little. How many cases were represented by court appointed attorneys and later overturned due to law students at colleges finding evidence to do so - and they are STUDENTS that have not passed the bar or practiced law yet!

Our Justice system is broken - it has been for a very long time. You can commend it but I can name names of those who should still be rotting in jail who got off and I can name names of innocent people convicted who had substandard attorneys who were court appointed.

There is always room for improvement - or you can adopt your stand and "It isn't broke, don't fix it" and let it continue to rot as it does.

It's too bad that whatever sentence Huguely receives will no doubt be reduced by the two years already served in the local lockup. Still, that leaves a quite a few years for him to make new "friends" in Big Boy prison. Maybe his worthless parents can provide him with KY lubricant....he'll need it.

It's too bad Ms Love's family can't (because he was over 18) drain his parents for all they're worth, although the hundreds of thousands in legal bills they are and will be paying helps.

I agree (with other comments) that he probably purposely did not work out during the time in jail then was intentionally was given a suit too large in order to make him look smaller, less threatening, etc.

How come some of Love's family haven't gotten to the PUKE and killed him? Don't they care at all?

He KICKED/PUNCHED her door in...INTENT, INTENT, INTENT. If that is how he chose to enter her apartment, what do you think he was planning on doing once he was inside? Also - totally agree on the big suit, gaunt features and the little boy haircut...the defense team is slick, to say the least.

mouse - you are correct! i hope the prosecution clearly states that to the jury. Obviously, the defense is grasping at straws trying to muddle the waters. This entire thing is outrageous. Should have been tried and convicted two years ago. I hear george's chair is a couple inches lower than the attorneys to make him appear "smaller". If i were the prosecutor i would make sure i showed full body images of george as he was two years ago etc....

I bet he could really use a drink right now...and that lack of booze has helped him shed pounds the natural way! As far as prison food goes, it's mostly bad carbs, which pack pounds on, especially when you're sedentary. I bet lack of drink, which processes as sugar and therefore turns to fat, is cause for GHV's new svelte physique. And boy doesn't he just look stunned and sweet in his Georgie Porgy oversized clothes, like a regular widdle boy who couldn't hurt a fly!