Analyst says: Huguely still heading for a conviction
Despite the previous day's revelation that after getting brutally beaten Yeardley Love survived for two hours, longtime Hook legal analyst David Heilberg indicates that he stands by his prognostication that a first-degree murder conviction remains a possibility.
"Basically, she was helpless during the short time she was alive," says Heilberg, noting the defendant's "cold indifference" to Love's welfare by absconding with her computer and failing to call emergency responders after pummeling her.
Prosecutor Dave Chapman noted during his opening argument that the injured Love was in a many-windowed apartment, something that resonates with Heilberg.
"He talked about the small apartment with lots of windows, so if she had any ability to move, she'd have sought help," says Heilberg. "She wouldn't have to go far to open a window or cry out."
The defense, however, has indicated that it plans to introduce a variety of alternate scenarios that might have killed Love. These include a drug/alcohol-induced heart arrhythmia, bleeding from strenuous CPR efforts, and something akin to crib death called "positional asphyxiation."
Lauding the legal teams on both sides, Heilberg compliments the prosecutor, whose opening argument Heilberg watched during a break in his own downtown lawyering Wednesday
"I think he did a very nice job of closing the causation gap," says Heilberg. "The holes that were there in the beginning the Commonwealth seems able to cover."
Heilberg says he couldn't help but notice some impressive aspects of the jury.
"Boy, that's a very young jury," remarks Heilberg. "And they looked very intelligent– maybe it was the glasses."
As for the defense's warning to the jury that all six crimes for which Huguely has been charged require intent, Heilberg is less impressed.
"Pretty much any crime beyond speeding requires intent," says Heilberg.
So why wouldn't Huguely, like another famous UVA defendant named Andrew Alston, win a mere involuntary manslaughter conviction?
"The one thing that really goes against that," says Heilberg, "is he went to her place. The defense clearly has evidence to suggest that it's only manslaughter. If you're the defense, you hope for one juror who buys involuntary and can move the rest of the jury."
As for putting the defendant on the stand, Heilberg says that the defense may not decide that question until the prosecution has finished making its case. What Heilberg says definitely won't happen is an acquittal because even the defense has argued for a lesser type of conviction.
"Basically, it's a circumstantial case," says Heilberg, "but a circumstantial case can be as strong as direct evidence."Read more on: George Huguely