Friday defense: Former high-schoolers tell of Love purse-smacking Huguely
Testimony resumed Friday in the trial of accused UVA murderer George W. Huguely V after a day-long hiatus caused by the illness of the 24-year-old defendant's co-counsel Rhonda Quagliana. Testimony proceeded without her.
First up was Michael Woodhouse, a bio-mechanical consultant, who said he found no evidence of any object such as a human head striking the wall of the bedroom of Yeardley Love, the fellow UVA student that Huguely is accused of killing.
Next came a pair of former Northern Virginia high school students who testified to being in Huguely's apartment a few nights before Love's death when an angry Love came in and hit Huguely with her purse.
Alice Barbara Billmire, now a UVA student, and Caroline Wattenmaker, now studying at Vanderbilt, told how a polite and appropriately-acting Huguely allowed them in his apartment before the incident.
After the two of them testified, computer consultant Ben Richard Thomas told the court the infamously purloined laptop computer was worth less than $150. Earlier in the trial, jurors heard from a local pawn shop owner who opined that it could be worth as much as $350. The dispute matters because the legal threshold for grand larceny– one of the charges against Huguely– is $200.
Next came an aunt who is also the godmother of George Huguely who showed the jurors a surveillance videotape shot at Boylan Heights on Saturday, May 1. Captured on tape were friendly interactions– including hand-holding between Huguely and Love– at Boylan Heights restaurant.
"I see 'Georgie' here," said Alina Massaro, sister to Huguely's mother, Marta Murphy. "They are holding hands."
On cross-examination, prosecutor Dave Chapman got Massaro to note that the meeting occurred at a family event, which included two of Massaro's four daughters, both teenagers. The implication seemed to be that– just as O.J. Simpson acted cordially toward Nicole Brown Simpson at a children's music recital on the day, as a civil jury later found, he slaughtered her– so might Huguely have warmly greeted Love on the day before Love's death.
And, shortly before 11am, the judge declared the proceedings over for the day, with court set to resume on Saturday the 18th of February and then again on Wednesday the 22nd.
After court adjourned Friday, a reporter interviewed Charlottesville defense attorney Scott Goodman on the sidewalk in front of the courthouse. Goodman, who is not connected to this case, said that Quagliana's absence– which the co-counsel Lawrence attributed to "projectile vomiting"– would probably not be a cause to appeal any verdict. Goodman noted that while Lawrence had told the judge that his client would have preferred to have Quagliana present, Lawrence did not formally object to the judge's decision to move forward.
–story last updated at 1:09pm on Friday
Original headline: Friday defense: Huguely trial awaits Quagliana, more experts
Original posting: After a day of downtime giving half of the defense team time to recover from a sudden illness, court is set to resume Friday in the first-degree murder of former University of Virginia lacrosse player George W. Huguely V.
One doesn't know if it matters, but lead defense lawyer Fran Lawrence was seen walking in to court by himself again this day, the 17th of February. It was his co-counsel, Rhonda Quagliana, whose illness Thursday caused the proceedings to be canceled.
Lawrence told reporters that Quagliana would be absent again, but whether that means another delay could not immediately be determined.
–THIS STORY WILL BE UPDATED AS SOON AS MORE INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE–This story is a part of the Huguely trial coverage special.Read more on: George Huguely