Not trauma: Brain doc says CPR did the damage
The second witness to take the stand for the defense in the first degree murder trial of former UVA lacrosse player George W. Huguely claims it was the CPR delivered by rescuers that caused the swelling and bleeding evident in Yeardley Love's brain, and that it was her position face down on the bed that caused her to asphyxiate.
"This woman's brain was not receiving blood flow," testified Chicago-based neuropathologist Jan E. Leestma, who pointed out that when rescuers arrived to Love's apartment early in the morning of May 3, 2010, she had no pulse.
When the circulation through the body stops, Leestma testified during his more than three hours on the stand, blood vessels throughout the body are weakened almost immediately, and restoring blood flow into such compromised vessels can cause bleeding in the brain like the small hemorrages visible in Love's brain. Brain swelling, too, can be caused simply by a lack of oxygen, Leestma said, before suggesting that Love's pillow and her pooling blood caused her asphyxiation.
On cross examination, an aggressive Dave Chapman attempted to undermine Leestma's testimony, using some of the doctor's own writings to point out contradictions in his testimony and to suggest to the jury that the estimated $8,000 Leestma admitted he'd already billed was reason enough for him to provide testimony favorable to the defense.
After the prosecution rested before lunch, defense attorney Fran Lawrence unsuccessfully moved to strike five of the six charges against Huguely, suggesting that the larceny charge is the only one for which there might be any evidence.
"His intent was to talk with her," said Lawrence, insisting before Judge Edward Hogshire, and with the jury out of the courtroom, that the prosecution had failed to build a case.
"She freaked out, became aggressive and then sad things happened," he said, going on to argue that Huguely had no intent to kill Love or to steal her computer when he went to her apartment that night.
"Those are questions for the jury," Chapman responded, and Hogshire concurred, paving the way for the first defense witness, Richmond-based toxicologist Alphonse Poklis, who– as the defense's very first witness– testified that while Love's BAC tested at .14 at the time of her death, it was likely significantly higher at the time of the altercation with Huguely, between 11:45 and midnight.
"It could have been .17 or .18," Poklis said, describing the effects such intoxication would have had. "There would be severe impairment of her judgment, her decision making, reasoning, emotional control."
The defense continued building its case Friday, and courtwatchers correctly expected proceedings to continue on Saturday.