Missing Huguelys: And other damaging would-be witnesses

There couldn't have been a more critical moment in the life of George W. Huguely V, and one of his parents wasn't there to see it.

After a trial that lasted more than two weeks and jury deliberations that spanned more than nine hours, at just before 6:45pm on Wednesday, February 21, a light-bulb signaling a verdict illuminated, prompting a panicked flurry of tweets from reporters and bringing courtwatchers scurrying back to Charlottesville Circuit Court.

The now 24-year-old former UVA lacrosse player charged with first degree murder in the May 3, 2010 death of his one-time girlfriend Yeardley Love crossed himself and sat silently as he prepared to learn his fate from the 12-member jury. But with the possibility of a life sentence hanging, and tension in the room palpable, conspicuously absent was his father, George W. Huguely IV.

Even more curious to some courtwatchers was the fact that after the return of the verdict– guilty of second-degree murder and grand larceny– and before the jury began sentencing deliberations, not one person besides a lone member of his own legal team spoke on behalf of the newly convicted killer to recall any positive traits or to ask for leniency.

Where was his family when he needed them?

The absence of Huguely's father seems particularly ironic since he had been part of a pre-trial effort to win permission to attend the trial even though expecting to testify at sentencing. However, Judge Edward Hogshire denied the motion that would have permitted that.

The 56-year-old, who sports a haircut some have likened to Benjamin Franklin's, and who, court testimony revealed, had controversially been his son's drinking partner during a beer-soaked golf tournament earlier on the day of Love's death, had been a regular if lonely fixture around the courthouse on previous days. He had once been seen running over by himself and entering a side door, perhaps in an attempt to bypass the throngs of local and national media who'd been camped in front of the courthouse since jury selection began on February 6.

While he's avoided making any comment to the press about his son's case over the past 21 months, the elder Huguely hasn't been able to avoid making the wrong kind of news of his own.

In addition to facing foreclosure proceedings on his million-dollar River Road home in Potomac, the elder Huguely lost an eight-acre parcel on Morgantown Road in Ivy to Virginia National Bank last year. His own legal woes climaxed when he was arrested in Montgomery County after a dispute with two joggers.

The charge was driving while intoxicated after a September 20 incident in which one of the joggers reportedly hit his black Chevy Suburban. Soon after the altercation, according to the Washington Post, Huguely was spotted by police driving erratically and running a red light.

His trial is scheduled for April 3 in Montgomery County District Court. Huguely IV did not respond to a reporter's emailed request for comment, and a call to his son's defense attorneys was rebuffed by a receptionist.

"We're not making any further comments," she said, referring the reporter to a statement released the night of the verdict, a statement silent on the father's physical absence from court.

Huguely's lawyers, Rhonda Quagliana and Fran Lawrence, came under fire during trial from observers– she for illness and he for accusing Love of physical violence over a purse-smack– and the judge heaped opprobrium upon the defense for initiating improper information-sharing between witnesses. However, the lack of character witnesses may be explained simply as savvy strategy.

"If they'd had anyone testify at all about his character in a positive way," says Hook legal analyst David Heilberg, "they open the door for the prosecution to present rebuttal witnesses."

Such witnesses, Heilberg says, could have revealed several unflattering stories about Huguely's proclivity for violence before killing Love. Indeed, according to sources inside the courtroom on the night of the verdict, the prosecution had several female witnesses on deck plus the former UVA lacrosse teammate reportedly victimized in an allegedly violent assault by Huguely.

In February 2009– more than a year before Love's death– an intoxicated Huguely reportedly became enraged by the possibility that the teammate had kissed Love. While the man slept in his own apartment, according to the Washington Post, Huguely punched him in the face with this taunt: "Sweet dreams, punk." (The Post report noted that both Huguely and the victim downplayed the event when their lacrosse coach, Dom Starsia, noticed bruises. Neither man faced any legal action.)

Another witness that defense would have hoped to keep off the stand is Rebecca L. Moss. The Lexington police officer who encountered an intoxicated and belligerent Huguely, Moss later revealed that Huguely resisted arrest to the point that a "tussle" ensued as she tried to arrest him.

"I'll kill all of you," Moss reported that Huguely shouted as the 5'3", 130-pound Moss realized she was "no match" for the 6'2", 209-pound college athlete. She eventually wielded a Taser to subdue him.

So what does UVA think about all this? While the president released a statement following the verdict expressing condolences to both families and reminding peers to look out for each other, UVA took one other action in the wake of its only student-on-student murder.

All bios of Huguely during his four years on the lacrosse team have been erased from the athletic department's website. It's as if he never existed.

This story is a part of the Huguely trial coverage special.

47 comments

I thought this article would be more then the sum of the blogs. No new information. Don't bother even reading it. My guess is real simple - Marta didn't want him there.

The commentary on hair styles, such as the Ben Franklin 'do, is one of the reasons I love reading The Hook. I am not even being sarcastic. Great article, Courteney. I found it to be much more than a sum of the blogs! You truly are the gold standard of courtroom and true crime coverage.

The Hook newspaper is an absolute embarrassment. How low can you people go- Benjamin Franklin style haircut? You people are SCUM BAGS.

Have some sympathy.

The result of parents these days wanting to be friends to their children instead of being role models and real parents. Old man Hugely failed his son in countless ways almost insuring that something like this tragedy would happen. One has to ask themself where Georgie got all that rage from, ask dear ole dad.

Sarah (if that is your real name)- I guess you can be taken off the blog and delivery list. The Hook will stop charging you as well.

Why not apply for a writer/correspondent position with The Hook. I am sure that your perspective would be welcome. I would love to see what you have to say under a real name.

SkipD is my real name.

I agree with the first comment. From what I have read, there has been intense hatred between them and I can only imagine the mothers rage at knowing that the entire day (before the murder) could have been halted by the father.

I lived in CVIlle for 10 years and was there when this happened. First of all, hats off to Hawes/Courtney and Coy for their reporting. Some of it was compelling and yes, you have to insert certain dramatic points in story telling. It's not ..just the facts ma'am. I was also an abused college student back in the day. It was in the early 80's. In Upstate N.Y. He was also a "good guy" with an alcohol problem and I assume most bystanders would have assumed I provoked him. I was a pain in the ass. I was 17. He actually beat the living shit out of me IN FRONT OF police officers and you know where I went the next day..to bail him out and, he played the victim. And, I apologized. His father was a professor at the University we went to and I suppose he expected a certain amount of protection from that. The night he beat me..he slammed my head into the concrete street and I am more than lucky to be alive from that, but, there were no charges. It wasn't his first violent act. Nor, his last. And, boy did he blame me. But, we went on with our lives. I got a backbone. He left me for the love of his life. For 2 minutes. I don't know whether he still beats women, but I doubt it from what I have heard from other mutual friends many years later. And, I appreciate the woman who detailed her experience in an earlier article. There but for the grace of God. Or whomever you choose to believe in. There are no winners here. And, I'm sure the people who like to think of him being ass raped in prison vote Democrat and are anti Death Penalty. Hypocrites. The whole thing is awful and it could have easily been me or my now producing the Oscars shows ex. It could easily be you. Don't be so quick to throw stones. I've made more mistakes in my life, but I would hope the sum would be equal to the parts. And, yeah..if I was that mad and I was 22 and big and pissed and drunk and a dude with a sense of entitlement could I have done that. Yes. And, he will pay for it as he should.

Exiled off West Main Street- I appreciate your comments. The phrase "There but for the grace of God go I" has occured to me many times in this trial. We should be careful about throwing stones, because we may find ourselves in a position one day where we are judged severely. For example, a child is unattended for a few minutes and hits its head, the parents take the child to the ER and have their child taken from them and are charged with child abuse (happened to friends of mine). In the UK a house catches fire and in her confusion the mother runs out the door, it locks behind her and her children are trapped inside, die in the fire, and she is charged with the murder of her own children. A woman is driving a car at 80mph while talking on her cell phone and hits the car in front, killing both passengers. In Australia a older man tells a younger that he is breaking water regulations by using a hose, an altercation breaks out, the older man dies of heart failure and the younger man is charged with murder, crying in court as he is charged. While many here may think that they would not do what Huguley did, life can throw on us the most awful circumstances due to oversight or carelessness. Perhaps we should then not be so ready to judge others or delight in their punishment. If we do so, we cannot call ourselves human beings, for we are no better than wild animals

Jessica Jaglois of Newsplex has reported a fascinating interview with one of the jurors. The defense would have liked this to be seen as a tragic accident, and when people are unjustly charged for an accident justice is not served, but in this case it appears the jury had just cause to convict on the charge of second degree murder. I thank them for their hard work.

And thanks go to the Hook news team for the excellent radio and print coverage of this trial. The commentary by Mr. Heilberg was especially helpful in understanding the complex legal issues that resulted from multiple charges.

http://www.newsplex.com/news/headlines/Huguely_Juror_Speaks_Out_14023875...

Thoughtful --

The difference between Huguely and the cases that you described is that Huguely has a history of this sort of behavior. He did not just make one mistake that night, he made mistake after mistake for years leading up to that night, and got drunk and violent over and over again. His first run-in with the law should have been his clue that getting drunk is a bad idea. Yet despite one drunken mistake after another, what was Huguely doing in the hours before he committed murder? He was drinking heavily.

Life did not through Huguely a curve ball; Huguely had plenty of chances to change his dangerous behavior, and did not do so.

-- B

B Absolutely correct. He had a pattern of drinking and violence. Noone stopped him, he didnt want to stop himself. This murder is his fault.

@B my point was not to compare the cases I cited with Huguley's case, where clearly the degree of culpability was higher. My point was simply to say that though we may take delight in judging Huguley or any other criminal, any of us could at any time be put into circumstances where we are judged severely, either because of wrong decisions or in cases like I cited, because we were not careful enough.

@ exiled Personal responsibility is the big
Republican mantra after family values.
Hypocrisy?!

@ mer, I think Exiled off West Main St talked about taking responsibility when in her last sentence she said "he will pay for it as he should."

Why Some women want to admit any blame when they clearly are victimized by drunkin bums escapes me. Maybe too conditioned by a culture that still sees women as the original sin. The male ego has put us where we are in the world these days, will we ever learn?

@Perspective - you have to be in that position to understand what it is like. There are many reasons why women stay in abusive situations - lack of self-esteem, lack of financial resources, that all the women in their family have been in the same situation, are but a few. And love and attachment tend to override any rational considerations. For me, it was a combination of all of those. I knew what was going on was crazy, as did others, but it was hard to break free.

And children that are abused often seek out abusive relationships as adults.

It's obvious that Huguely needed help with alchohol, he wrote in his letter to Love "Alchohol is Ruining My Life". Unfortunately, he didn't know how to stop, like any alchoholic. There was no evidence that he was violent, quite the contrary, until he drank, and found out what he had done later on (chokehold incident). Not absolving Huguely, he will pay, but there were alot of people that dropped the ball here in not showing him the way to get some help. Hope he gets rehab help in prison.

Ann you dont think threatening to kill a police officer, breaking ,down the door of a teammate and waking him with a punch in the face and having to be pulled away from assulting Ms Love in the middle of a group of people shows violence? He may well have needed help, but he certainly earned a couple of sentences for assult. The people who dropped the ball ddnt fail Huguely they failed Yeardley Love. Huguely deserves a whole lot more than rehab. Hope the Love family pursues a civil suit against this person and his enabling family.

cat, they can keep suing, but what will it get them? Plenty of lives are already ruined,and there's already plenty of loss and pain to go around for both families. To what end will a civil suit serve them? I don't know that there's any real satisfaction in 'winning',and nothing on earth is going to make up for the loss of Yeardley. Just wondering what good you think a civil suit would do.

Cat, if you do your research he did all those acts while very drunk, and had no memory of them. That's my point. There's no evidence of violence, except when he was drunk. He is paying for what he did by going to prison for 26 years. I was saying I hope he gets rehab in prison so he doesn't come out and drink again, as he admitted, he does things he can't believe and is a violent drunk. If he had gotten help for his drinking before this, it would not have happened. Many people become violent when drunk. Google "Blackout murders. Let's try to learn something from this. Alcohol was the predominant factor throughout the trial.

And Cat as far as his "enabling" family, his father called the police for domestic violence on him. Also day of the murder, friends who were treated to dinner with George and father all testified father told him to stop drinking. Alcohol cause more problems in society than any other drug.

ann, I agree. I think he didn't grasp the seriousness of his behavior during blackouts. It's a shame his wake up call had to come at Yeardley's expense. I guess you can get drugs and homemade booze in prison, but I imagine those things will be much harder to come by. And I hope he's finally sworn off. If this isn't enough to make him quit, I'm not sure what it would take.

And of course hopefully he'll also spend time trying to understand his underlying feelings and drives and all that good dark stuff rattling around under the surface.

ann --

Sorry, but blaming "alcoholism" here is wrong too. UVA offers help for students who have drug problems, including alcohol problems, and there are signs all over campus with the appropriate contact information listed. Even if he did not know how to say "no," there is no way that he did not know who to call to show him how. Huguely simply did not see anything wrong with his behavior, despite the fact that it led to him attacking people around him, even to the point of being arrested.

Sometimes, people are dangerous and need to be locked away to protect the rest of society. Why point to "alcoholism" to explain Huguely's behavior? Plenty of alcohol abusers manage to not murder people.

-- B

@B, and Ann - people become alcoholics because they have some kind of problem going on inside. I am not sure if you have ever lived with an alcoholic. Having a number of alcoholics in my family, I know that rarely do they see signs like you mentioned and seek help. There is a strong element of denial there, a denial that there is a problem. And if one is living in a culture where heavy drinking is the norm it can support one's perception that there is nothing wrong. And even if one does see that there is a problem, as Huguley did, it can be hard to reach out and get help. Usually they need to be helped by concerned others to do so. And for concerned others that is difficult to do as well - my experience is that the substance abuser is often resistant to any kind of help. This is not to minimize his responsibility for what happened, but just to say that this is a very difficult problem to deal with. We, as a society need to become better at acting on the red flags that we see. If anything good can come out of this tragedy, one thing is a heightened awareness of these issues and a increased determination to not just let things pass by.

why does this article say he was convicted of first degree murder?

It says "charged with first degree murder in the May 3, 2010" and "the verdict– guilty of second-degree murder and grand larceny" ie the prosecution was going for first degree murder but the jury decided on second degree murder.

As already stated there are all types of alcoholic behavior out there. Fortunately the vast majority of drinkers don't become violent as a result of having a few drinks. Unfortunately when some bozo's do, women seem to become the most common target. Easy prey. The mental health system is chock full of women who's lives have been shattered by male abuse as a result of alcohol use. One thing that I'm curious about is whether the alcohol alibi is a southern thing? In my view it should not be. A crime of this magnitude should have no excuses, alcohol or not.

@ Perspective. It's not about making alcohol an alibi, but acknowledging that it is a big problem in our society. The simple fact is that alcohol abuse destroys lives and we cannot ignore that fact. Alcohol, anger issues and other factors are part of the mix of violence jn society. As much as you may want to simplify it to "He is wrong" such an approach does not help us to deal with the problem.

Rod spared. Spoiled lives.

This horrible crime rests squarely on the shoulders of George Huguely, not his family or friends or teammates or UVA or alcohol.

However this case and thousands of other similar acts of behavior every day in this country should allow us to open up a debate on how some drugs and substances are legal and others are not.

Huguely had prior incidents of being drunk from alcohol and never spent any time incarcerated for those episodes.

Yet, every hour of every day in this country people of all ages are are being arrested, convicted and jailed for possessing or using marijuana.

Please help me find a story about anyone being high on pot who kicked in a door and choked someone to death.

As Todd Snider says, "it's not what drugs you're high on, but whose."

As long as you over-medicate on Big Pharma's drugs, or abuse the alcohol industries products which are freely advertised on ESPN, or get addicted to Big Tobacco's products, or Starbucks caffeine it's okay.

You can pop an Adderall, down a couple Jack Daniels while puffing on a cancer-causing Winston and then smack your wife. But, for the love of christ, don't you dare share a doobie with your wife while watching the Oscars tonight.

Thoughtful, I actually am an alchoholic and so was my mother. Several people in my family have had problems, and not because they had deep problems otherwise. It is a disease. Unfortunately it took me a long time to get help because noone ever took me aside to educate me about it. Everyone I hung out with drank too much. Again, not excusing Huguely, he did not get off because of the drinking, he's serving 26 years. Remember he was 22, not 40. I am a woman, but would become violent when drinking. For some people it totally changes your personality, Jekyl Hyde. It's a drug. Drinking too much is too accepted at college and after, and hopefully this case will make people have this dialogue.

And I do agree that there should be stronger enforcement of alchohol related problems for sure, instead of being let off or a short time of community service. It's a huge problem and very complicated for sure.

Good piece on the boozy lacrosse culture.

http://www.laxpower.com/laxnews/news.php?story=27079&page=1

Ann you may be an alcoholic but I am pretty sure that you never attacked a police officer and threatened that persons death while you were drunk. I am also pretty sure that you didnt break down the door of a sleeping friend and beat them in the head. (Mind you this is referring to his teammate not Ms Love.) Disease notwithstanding, those actions make him a danger to society. If you had done either of those actions while drunk--would you expect a free pass from the law because of your disease? I dont think so. He was clearly out of control---AND there has been almost no talk about poss steriod or cocaine use both of which could have contributed to his rages. Again if you have a disease where when you drink or indulge you theaten to kill people and break into homes and beat people up--well you had better stop drinking or sniffing or injecting yourself. Again Ann many many people are alcoholics, very few of those same people threaten or commit murder.

other ann, you're mixing up the accounts. I've not seen it reported that GH broke down any doors to slug the sleeping teammate that had kissed YL.And you can be certain it would have come up in the trial as part of his M.O. "This guy broke down the door just as he had done to attack so-and-so." So...he went into the dude's room and sucker punched him, but without the added fanfare.

And, GH and the guy he punched jointly went to the coach and reported their 'scuffle'-- according to this UVA statement.

http://www.virginia.edu/uvatoday/corrections/051310_wp_correction.html

Ann, thanks for sharing your experience. When I studied psychology, we studied alcoholism. The disease model of alcoholism was prevalent until the last 40 years or so. Now there are other models for understanding it and in some circles that model is considered outdated. Certainly to take a disease only approach ignores the social and cultural aspect. I know in the case of my father it was a combination of a certain culture (where he was taken to the bar for his first drink when he was 14), and extreme disappointment and frustration in life. My aunt was abused as a child and then abused for her husband, and I don't doubt that contributed to her drinking. My father, too was a mean drunk. He was the most gentle and kind person when sober, but when he became drunk he became mean, nasty and violent. When I got drunk I would become emotional. Alcohol affects people in different ways, but it certainly causes some people to become violent - there are plenty of documented cases of that. To acknowledge this fact does not decreases someone's responsibility, but helps us to see the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption.

To Thoughtful and other Ann. In my responses, I never absloved him of responsibility as he's got second degree. Just bringing, as the trial and all the witnesses did, the power and misuse of alcohol, whether a disease or not. Actually, I broke a guys arm who I didn't even know I had talked to one drunk night, had no idea until the next week, and did have physical fights with men that could have ended this way. In a recent article in Baltimore Sun about Love there was a report of how many violent assaults, accidents, etc. under the influence of alcohol that have come very close to this. It's epidemic. Alcohol does affect people in different ways, Did it have to come to this to get people's attention. If I had been somehow held responsible for that guy's broken arm, maybe I would have gotten help then instead of another 12 years of hell. Instead, it's just shrugged off in the culture of bingedrinking and blackouts in college and accepted. No consequences and no help. It's a tough subject all around.

Where is GHV residing now? Still isolated at the Charlottesville-Albemarle Regional Jail of has he been moved to his more permanent address? If so is he still in isolation?

He must be in the same place he's been, as he's not headed to the State Pen until after his sentencing....and even then it probably takes awhile. Didn't someone say it would be in the summer, following his April 16 sentencing?

I still don't know why George IV was barred from the courtroom? Article does not mention why hogshire banned hom?

Re-read the article Buck.

"-he had been part of a pre-trial effort to win permission to attend the trial even though expecting to testify at sentencing. However, Judge Edward Hogshire denied the motion that would have permitted that."

Witnesses don't sit there and watch other witnesses testify. Hogshire simply didn't grant an exception to that rule.

" father told him to stop drinking".....

....and, as is common, that didn't work too well.......and didn't for me when I heard it....over and over.....

ER and hospitalization for pancreatitis scared me, but, apparently, not enough...

....but then, years later - still alive and still in hell - I found this:

AA works if you go to as many meetings a day (24 hour "day") as you can......and then some.

In between meetings, figure out where and when the next one is. Do NOT decide not to go to one because the "type of" people who'd be there AND/OR the location of the meeting is "beneath" you.

If you're in a meeting with other addicts, you "know" each other in ways that will matter to your becoming sober.

If you have to, and can find them, go to AS MANY EACH AND EVERY DAY that you can find and get to. Distance and pride can NOT be factors.

Call people from meetings if you need to have someone hear you. And ONLY if they are also sober.

If you do all this, then your next step is: KEEP doing it until you know...KNOW... where to reflexively go when your mind relapses to tricking you into believing, for sure, that you have some type of control over drinking. You will not. But you will have control over what you do about it. And you'll get yourself to an AA meeting. whenever. wherever.

Who knows....you might be at one in London and realize later that night that the guy behind you (talking with another AA person about what he did that morning w/ his grandkids) was one of the superstars in a music group - whom you swooned over years ago. That he, while leading a meeting and telling his "story", speaks of an addiction he had not known how to stop....how his life had been as an active alcoholic and how it is now.

This is written in case one person "hears" what I'm trying to convey. I know you're out there and I know how you feel.

And you don't have to feel that way any longer. Truthfully.