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.


I guess it is time to charge the EMT's..............

Just a thought, the hired gun: Jan E. Leestma thinks shaken baby syndrome is a myth.... - just another highly paid hired gun....

@Darnit - good find - that is exactly WHY they chose this quack. And they are out there - lots of them.

Defense is contradicting their client - he said she was "defensive" and you know what, I would be too if some 209 pound LAX player knocked down my locked bedroom door to "talk" while I was asleep or even awake.

I also recall to in my days of drinking (we all did them) you would be feeling the affects of the booze and if something happened suddenly - example you almost step out on a curb and get hit by a car (but don't) it sobers you up pretty quick! Maybe not your BAC - but it does wake you from your haze.

The whole defense is sleazey and I hope none of them ever has a good night's sleep again due to their shame over such absurd testimony. What a group of money grubbing ghouls.

Wholly flimsy case, Batman.

The fact they had to go all the way to Chicago to find this quack, should speak for itself.

@Doyle - they are all over, don't be too hard on Chicago. My work, I've come across a whole bunch.

I couldn't agree more with all comments this far, except for perhaps Jim's, though I wish it was the case. Theirs promises to be as simple of a defense as what Lawrence has begun spelling out: both poorly behaving college kids (but otherwise promising), drunkenly driven carnal appetites throwing gas on the volatility of young, emotional (and still emotionally maturing, thus ill- equipped to cope) hearts, jealousy and anger impulsivity...never meant to kill her, blah, blah, blah. I'm sad to say I think they'll be able to sell it to at least one which is, after all, all it takes. It seems to me (by the number of GH sympathetic folks who've posted here) that it's quite likely and the guy steps outta there w/ invol manslaughter, a couple served and only single digits left to serve. Sickens me, but I think that is still the most likely outcome.

IF he gets involuntary manslaughter, THEN you have to factor in the fact that he broke into her apartment (which I believe is a felony) and then committed larceny (which is another felony). So you don't just look at the involuntary manslaughter. The fact, which seems indisputable, that he committed these two felonies while also killing (or "involuntarily manslaughtering") should automatically up his conviction to felony murder.

That's the law.

He caused her death. No one has denied that. Even if he just knocked her out and then she asphyxiated, he caused her death. And he broke into her apt to do it and then stole her laptop.

It seems VERY difficult to imagine that there's a juror sitting through this trial that wouldn't agree to those facts. Hell, the defense attorney's practically have to admit those facts are indisputable.

If Chapman sums up well and Hogshire gives decent instructions to the jury, Huguely will be away for over 30 years, as he should be.

Curious as to how many experts the defense had to interview to find one who would offer up the answer that they wanted.....there is always someone out there who will tell you what you want to hear.............always, because it is only one persons opinion and rarely hurts their credibility if they are from another area of the Country..

With regard to the defense expert witness (Dr. Leestma) testimony yesterday that called into question (dismissed?) the forensic value of beta-APP testing in SBS cases, I am wondering if the pediatrician who is currently serving on this jury might have some competing thoughts that he will share with his fellow jurors during deliberations.

One caution on weighing the experts -- don't underestimate the overwhelming advantage the Commonwealth has with a steady stable of "in-state experts" to call upon. Don't discount the difficulty of finding local defense experts, especially here where I doubt any at UVa would even take a look at the evidence on behalf of the defense because the case involves two UVa students.

The Commonwealth's in-state experts are no less "hired guns" than the defense experts.

The defense's arguments are that which issues from the south end of a male bovine heading north. if he had not attacked her , she would not be dead! There is no getting around that fact.
So it was the CPR that caused it. In case I pass out for some reason, please don't call the rescue squad because they might kill me trying to wake me up!
I feel sorry for the jury who has to listen to this nonsense. Maybe they'll be so put out that they'll return a swift verdict of guilty of first murder, and all the other charges too.

This statement from Lawrence was particularly reprehensible:
"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
"Sad things...?" Jesus.

cross examination should be very interesting

So, where's Judge Judy? Does Lawrence have adverts on cable channels soliciting services that most ambulance chasing d-bags make fortunes off of?

prosecution should be able to eliminate the reasonable doubt that the defense has flown in from Chicago

Sabbath Lily summed it up .... I wish the national news would repeat some of these asinine statements made by the defense. However..... it is also reflective of the climate of our town. Violence against women occurs every day yet very few of these crimes of violence against women are prosecuted. Rather than call rapes felony crimes we refer to them as incidents of "miscommunication" so that the culprit is not prosecuted. Minimizing murder as a "sad thing" is reprehensible. I cannot believe that an educated lawyer can believe such dribble.

My opinions of the defendant, his legal team, and their witness choices aside, shaken baby syndrome is actually an extremely controversial diagnosis. There has been a lot of recent research suggesting there is something else going on with these babies biologically. See this article in the NY Times for a start:

I'd also like to point out that the article posted by Darnit is published in a respectable, peer-reviewed journal. This isn't the community newsletter. The man is well-educated and has a prestigious career (and life), something the defense can all relate to very well...

The real travesty is here is not the particular choice of witnesses. I think that is clear enough without being pointed out...

Devil's advocate -- furthermore, although credentials don't mean everything here, it is plain silly to dismiss Dr. Leestma because he is from out of town/Chicago. HIs U Michigan MD, faculty at U of Chicago and Northwestern credentials stack up well against the plaintiff's expert's -- Syracuse MD, MCV faculty. Both the prosecution and and the defense rely on bought and paid-for experts. You can't discount one side's experts on that basis without discounting both side's experts. Likewise, it is dangerous to listen only to the expert who says what you want to hear. The reason the commonwealth attorney fought so hard to keep Leestma off the stand is that the CA has the burden of proof. He worked hard to develop a theory of the case incriminating to the defendant and found expert testimony to support that theory. Did he talk to one or fifty doctors to find that support, we'll never know. The defense doesn't have to prove anything; they just need to cast doubt on the prosecution's case. They put on a witness who did that. Will he be convincing to the jury? Who knows.

They are doing what they have been charged with doing- justifying reasonable doubt any way possible, short of the wall actually having conrtibuted to the murder

Actually, under the evidence developed by the defense, the wall's involvement is in question. The only evidence of her head hitting the wall is Huguely's taped statement. The fact that there is no damage to the wall, no blood/make-up or other substance on the wall, the pictures hadn't moved . . . something doesn't add up in my view.

What kind of a wall is it?

Drywall, I believe.

actually the wall has nothing to do with the case- it is not on trial and was not used as a weapon

He killed her, now his lawyers are dragging her name through the mud. They must not believe in karma.

An observer- you can discount/dismiss experts based on how many were interviewed until the prosecution or defense found one that would say what they want the jury to hear.

Would be interesting to see, say out of 1000 "experts", how many side with the expert used in the testimony.

Out of town/area experts are a dime a dozen.. once they are done, they go home and continue to do what they have done. If local, they have a hard time getting back to what they were doing, without a lot of ridicule.

Skipd -- agree with most of your points. But I'll add another -- it is very hard for local experts to testify contrary to the prosecution and popular opinion without ridicule. So they usually won't in a small community like Charlottesville/UVa.