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


I've got two questions for *legal groupies. First, what's an educated rough estimate of how much Hugely (his family I mean) will pay Lawrence for his (I'm searching for a nice word) ... let's go with "strategic" thinking and amazing acting abilities? $500/hr was thrown out in another post. Just what does that add up to in a case like this?

Second, the notion that Hugely might walk because he has been charged with first degree murder has also been discussed even following an article which describes Lawrence as essentially asking for a conviction on a lesser charge. What's the law on that? If he's charged with the most serious crime and the prosecution can't prove that, does he walk or does the process somehow simply reduce the charges until one sticks?

*By "legal groupies," I mean people who actually know what they're talking about.

Yes, he can be convicted on the lesser crimes. Thus, it could be anywhere from 1st, 2nd, voluntary, manslaughter to involuntary. The defense is shooting for involuntary as the best case scenario. 1st is the best case scenario for the prosecution. I think it will be very hard to get but 2nd is possible.

No idea on his rates and can't be specific on the total, but it will be in the 100s of thousands and likely over a million as the case has gone on for some time. They will have experts to pay and tons of pretrial work/motion practice. Between the two defense counsel and their support staff, the trial itself is probably running them 20K a day, They may also appeal.

Rather than worry about how much the legal fees will be for Huguely's family, you should be more concerned about all the indigent people who can't afford a good competent attorney. In many cases the ability to employ a good competent attorney means the difference between an innocent person going to prison or not going to prison.

Gasbag, who the *&*** are you to be telling me what I ought to think? Notice I asked for information from people who have a clue what they're talking about. I don't think someone who thinks it's necessary to state the obvious really falls into that category.

Thanks red-

The family can pay for the bill as a minor expense . They have been raking in profits at their DC building supply business for 100 years .The defense stragety is basically to get as much of that cash as they can get on an invoice .

My family runs a business that's more than 100 years old. A million dollar bill would be much more than a minor expense to us.

From the 08 incident and killing of YL it seems this fellow has a dissociative mental dysfunction .Unclear why the defense doesn't go that route in effort to have their client declared not criminally responsible due to his medical condition fueled by alchol and drugs .Rolling the dice in the face of a murder conviction or even lesser criminal conviction doesn't seem prudent or appropriate . The Love family needs the proper answer . The Hueguely family needs the proper answer . George needs proper treatment .To protray George as an uncomplicated person is hard to buy .

He will be convicted of voluntary manslauuughter and get ten years in a state penetentiary.

No malice aforethought just a drunk fight where he crossed the line and went nuts.

stronger than darn, I am sorry I upset you.

I will try not to do it again.

How come some of her family hasn't gotten to the PUKE and killed him? Don't they care?

@ GSOE...I have always appreciated your rational comments and insight. I don't have to agree with them to appreciate them. Seems we have a new contender for the bully pulpit. The hell with upsetting stronger than darn, your statement was valid and you are entitled to it. Stick to your guns.

I know all defendants are entitled to be represented by a lawyer, but I would never want to make a living by trying to set free monsters like Huguely so that they might kill another innocent woman somewhere in the future. I guess it takes a "special" kind of person to do that. Perhaps someone who figures it won't be him (or her) getting murdered by their client. In the meantime, the fees pay for their Mercedes and then some.

I'm not surprised the defense didn't want the trial moved out of Charlottesville . I think this attorney quoted in another Hook article "Legal Eagels " is right on target.

" Zwerling, who's had success for his clients here, not surprisingly, loves Charlottesville juries. "They're bright, they're well educated," he extols. "People always say they can be fair. I think there's a better chance of that in Charlottesville than in other areas."

For the Lacrosse Moms howling at work about the comment of after all he wasn't complicated he was a Lacrosse player... Show me when a boy/girl hook up on the chess club ended in death.

Okay Sam. Jens Soering & Elizabeth Haysom. You're welcome.

phillip -- you beat me to it.

I do not believe that George Hugley is a monster. It is my opinion that he was/is a very misguided young man with severe untreated emotional & psychiatric problems which he was self medicating with large amounts of alcohol. He was playing golf that fateful day so blotto that he couldn't hit the ball. He was drinking a lot, every day. Where were his parents, where were his coaches? He was psychologically sick. He needed an advocate, an intervention. I do not believe he intended to kill that darling girl but was out of his mind when faced with losing love, the one thing he needs the most and has probably always needed his whole life. Money can't buy love. It is beyond tragic that with his family's ability to pay for mental health treatment ,he was left in his condition. This kind of crime happens all the time: untreated mental health issues combined with alcohol/drugs, love, passion = a deadly combination. But he is certainly not a monster who thrives on killing.

I respectfully disagree with the Hook's legal analyst Mr. Heilberg. It is not the detail that she was alive when Huguely left her that will swing the jury in favor of the defense, but rather the relationship history between the two highlighted in the e-mails and their friend's testimony.

Wow, Seems to me that this trial is about the acting abilities of the defense counsel. Clearly, they are being paid a lot of money, but as someone posted above, there is also a lot of expense for experts, etc. I had a suit like the one FMQ had on today and then my dad got a job! RQ must live in a house without mirrors.

Too bad neither of the defense counsel are spending any money on clothing. Thy both look as if they have been wearing the same clothing for years. I had a suit like the one FMQ had on today and then my dad got a job! RQ must live in a house without mirrors. Come on folks this is Cville and we are being watched on national television. Mr.Jefferson is likely rolling over in his grave. We have an image to hold up.

If George walks, he'll find his demise in another of his devils. He is clearly both an alcoholic and a person with some very serious anger managememt issues. One or the other will do him in.

My guess is that he will get life. It's the least he deserves. She got death and didn't deserve it.

It is not the Haysome or Hughley faults..every 23 years or so the Jeepers Creepers comes to UVa to claim its victims. Probably started before the Civil war when one of the students killed a teacher.

Matt, but in high profile cases, the outcome is so often dependent on the comparative abilities (acting and otherwise) of the attorneys rather than the guilt or innocence. Which leads us back to GasBag's comment, about all the poor out there who can't afford a competitive lawyer and, in this community at least, get pretty much pushed into a guilty plea -- even when, unlike here, not at all guilty.

My two bits, perfectly exemplifies the point I was trying to make and that attorney Zwerling was making, I have found Charlottesville to have a preponderance of people willing to give those with mental disabilities ( whether rich or poor) a second chance , even if they kill someone, as I believe he did. The question is - at what point do we say enough and hold individuals responsible for their actions ?

I do not know the answer.

. . . Modifying my previous comment, really the outcome is so often dependent on the abilities in any kind of criminal case.

By the way, it is highly unlikely Huguely will get first degree murder. If blotto drunk, this will probably at least reduce it to second degree (still serious stuff, just not first degree).

my two bits -- most non gang/drug related murders are done by people who do not thrive on murder. killing someone over romantic issues is common but it is still murder.

I do not want to defend Huguely's actions because they are inexcusable, but the posters here compel me to display the middle ground. It's so tragic this happened to Yeardly, but I think it is clearly involuntary....This guy did not set out to murder her. For those of you jumping to those conclusions and writing IN ALL CAPS, I do not mean to generalize, but my assumption is that you are jealous that he comes from an affluent family and that his conviction would be some kind of "win" in the war on income inequality or some other socio-economic grudge you have against others. I also think you are jealous of a lot of aspects of the personal life of both George and Yeardly (whether it be that they played lacrosse, went to private school, UVA, attractive, etc) so your comments calling for nothing less than a public lynching come across as inhumane, bitter, ignorant, and pathetic. Further, clearly most of you do not know how family trusts and business work so I would advise you to not make any more suppositions. Stop guessing how much his family is spending on his defense-its gross. If your family would not do everything possible to defend you and stand behind you, then I feel bad for you. With that being said, I think everyone using Yeardly's name to build their soapbox upon, should put their money where their mouth is and donate to the One Love Foundation: If you are so righteous and indignant, make a difference instead of pontificating on the private lives of George and Yeardly.

Tactically the best chance for the defense is the apparent presence of uncontrolled mental illness . The reality of the situation gives that course a smart jury something to work with .That would give some resolution and best hope in the long run for Hueguely . The defense is trying to come up with a bunch of bogus red herrings that in total amounts to a crock .The official cause of death is homicide from blunt force . Their statement that she was hurt more from falling on the floor than from being punched is an insult to the jury's intelligence . Are they implying that was her fault for getting injured as she should have been wearing a helmet while being beaten? The jury won't buy their nonsense . They will throw the book at Hueguely as did the prosecution to keep him locked up as long as possible .

jlmiv - as public as this case is - they have put their families out there, their business and their money. We have every right to guess, ask or even make assumptions and speculate his intent. Remember the 1st Amendment here. As for stating we are ignorant for wishing him 1st Degree murder, well, there have been so many out there that have been reported here and elsewhere who received the "lesser" punishment when it was clear had there been a twist of fate and other jurors, it may have been different.

So if we are angry that justice doesn't appear to be served - which it isn't in our system - perhaps it is also up to us to voice this and make sure something changes. And truly I think the Love family deserves justice.

You however, are posting in a forum of comments here where you will go dismissed. BTW, I have donated, have you?

I think his defense team put him on meds to keep him from "reacting" or "over-reacting". If the Jury were to see that?

So his defense is that she could't take a punch....?

He is an athlete and he knows about injuries. He wears protection to play lacrosse.

He attacks her with more violence than any lacrosse game he has been in and claims he should not have known the risk?

I am sure his "intention" was not nessasrily to kill her, but if it happened then so be it...

Thats close enough for me....

I don't care what they convict him of as long as he does at least 50 years.

N.Drew: I believe we should hold people responsible for their actions. Unless he is deemed found innocent by reason of insanity, which of course isn't the case, he is going to be found guilty on some level. My earlier comment was just to say that given his illness, I only wish that someone had intervened earlier in his life to help him. I wish someone had intervened earlier in Yeardley's life to teach her that abusive relationships can be deadly.
red: Of course it is still murder. Never said it wasn't.

omgitspaul, my apology to Mr/Mrs/Miss Strongerthandarn was sarcasm.

I couldn't care less if he/she is upset. :)

mytwobits, I was speaking more to your comment that George wasn't a monster, that is the attitude I meant to highlight and the one that makes Charlottesville juries more likely to consider alternatives to- guilty in the first degree.

N.Drew: Gotcha. Thanks.

@ GSOE...Good! I was hoping that was the case. Some people's kids! lol.

GOSE- Upset? Make that just another reader tired of your ignorance and pomposity.

Your presumptive assertion that you both know all that I'm concerned with and that you are somehow an authority on what I ought to be concerned with might not be so laughable if it weren't followed by your typically one-dimensional and sophomoric analysis of our legal system.

Hiring a good lawyer has an effect on how your trial turns out? Durn! Who would have thought that without a self-anointed legal expert such as yourself piping in? Note, I did ask for insight from people who know what they are talking about. I've yet to see the category of information that includes you in that regard and I suspect it's limited to the relative benefits of headstone material choices if that.

One question among many that I was interested in answering for myself is just how much an attorney gives up financially by devoting a career to the public good ie. representing the indigent so that competent legal service are available to everyone. I personally couldn't stand in front a a jury making preposterous statements in defense of someone I know to have killed another person for any price, but then I'm not trying to pay $100,000+ in law school debts. If "competency" comes at that price, and defending the indefensible pays as it does, then the system simply isn't going to change anytime soon no matter how concerned I may be about the indigent.

LET'S SEE - he STANDS by a POSSIBILITY. That's meaningless. Anyone can stand by a possibility. This "analyst" is just another talking head who hedges because he has no idea. Just say anything for the media.