The Huguely tape: Court finally allows glimpses of evidence
During his trial, spectators could hear George Huguely's interview with police in which he went from matter-of-fact discussion of Yeardley Love "freaking out" to near hysteria and denial after getting told she was dead. In that same courtroom more than two months later, after several media organizations pressed for release of the trial evidence, the public on the morning of May 15 was finally allowed to see the video recording of Huguely.
A couple dozen people, mostly reporters, gathered in Charlottesville Circuit Court to see the one-hour police interview, nearly 200 photos, and about 30 slides of documentation that were difficult to read unless sitting on the front row to better understand what happened before Love was found dead in her 14th Street bedroom early May 3, 2010.
Judge Edward Hogshire did not allow release of any photos of Love's body, nor were any recording devices allowed in the courtroom. In February, Huguely was convicted of second-degree murder with a recommended 26-year prison sentence for the 2010 killing. He faces formal sentencing August 30.
Huguely's police interview starts around 7:53am in a small interview room when Huguely signs a release saying he's been advised of his rights. He's sitting in the far corner of the room, trapped behind a rectangular table up against the wall, wearing a Police band t-shirt and an expression that seems to say, I'm really hung over and why am I here?
In a low-yet-nasal voice reminiscent of James Spader's preppy character in Pretty in Pink, Huguely recounts his past 24 hours. He demonstrates certain parts of his narrative: "She was hitting her head," while banging his own on the nearby wall. "She was freaking out."
He takes a sip of his coffee and says, "She kept hitting her head. I never hit her in the face."
Huguely describes Love as "flopping like a fish out of water." He insists he just wants to talk to her. "She's like"– he pauses as he shivers in imitation of Love– "get away from me."
"I may have grabbed her a little by the neck," Huguely volunteers while miming a loose-gripped choke for Detective Lisa Reeves. "I never strangled her."
Huguely recounts Love's visit to his apartment a week earlier, during which she was "totally freaking out," and hitting him in the face. He tells the initially sympathetic-sounding Detective Reeves that the romance broke up because Love wanted to go to New York after graduation and he to San Francisco.
But Huguely seems unable to halt his tale of the break-up, and, unprompted, describes how Love went to "Carolina" a week earlier. Love, according to Huguely, accused him of being violent and told him she's slept with someone else.
In Huguely's narrative, Love too is violent, having hit him in the head when she comes to his apartment and trying to push him out of her bedroom after he'd kicked the door in. "I just want to talk to you," he insists he told Love.
Huguely seems unaware of how detectives might feel when hearing an over-200-pound man describe "wrestling" on the floor with a woman half his size and seemingly oblivious to the coldness of the assertions: "I tossed her on the bed. She had a bloody nose."
At the same time, he reiterates, "I never struck her." And he shows Reeves scrapes and cuts on his hands and legs. "That's all from lacrosse," he says.
Fifty minutes into the interview, Reeves tells Huguely Love is dead.
"She's dead?" he asks. He stares. He puts his hands on the back of his head, and then under his chin. "How the f*ck is she dead?"
He puts his head down on the table. "She's dead?" he repeats in seeming disbelief. "How?"
"That's why you killed her, because she hooked up with another player," says the detective. "You're here because she's dead."
Huguely reacts like a person in shock, and denies– repeatedly, dozens of times– that she's dead, and maintains that he did nothing to seriously hurt her.
"She's not dead," he protests. "She had a black eye."
Next, he accuses the detectives of lying to him.
"There's no way," he says over and over. He stamps his feet, insisting, "I didn't murder her." He puts his head back on the table, sobbing and sniffling. "She's not dead," he says again as the tape plays on.
As for the photographs, those bits of evidence begin with the Love sisters, Lexie and Yeardley. One from Love's apartment shows a living room decorated with posters of Audrey Hepburn and vintage French advertising.
Her room is neat and clothes are visible. A black and white sweater is draped across a chair. Other garments are pink and red. A computer cord snakes across the floor. Photographs of friends occupy a wall around her bed, and there's one of Love and her sister Lexie on the bedside table. A turquoise bracelet, candle, and lighter are on the same table.
It looks like a typical college-aged young woman's apartment, except for the angry, dark-red stain in the middle of the green pillow on her bed.
The evidentiary photos include Huguely, shackled and wearing flipflops, with rulers beside the scrapes on his leg that look suspiciously like leftovers from kicking in a door.
Photos of his apartment show a fondness for Bob Marley and the Grateful Dead. Empty beer cans and bottles crowd a coffee table.
Huguely's bedroom isn't neat like Love's. Clothes are piled on the floor and spill out of drawers. A remote control, lighter, and pen lie on his tousled bed.
Exhibits of texts show Huguely's unsuccessful attempts to entice other young women that night, the last one around 11:22pm on May 2– shortly before he headed over to Love's apartment.
Thirty slides of trial evidentiary documents were shown for a maddeningly slow minute each for less interesting items like the receipt for Love's Dell laptop.
The same minute flew by on the single screen that showed all the April 30 emails between Huguely and Love, with a reporter able to scribble mere fragments:
She: "Not everything is about you."
She: "You were trying to hook up with Stephanie."
He: "A week ago you said you'd get back together with me and I stop drinking and you hook up with Burns. How f*cked up is that?"
The public gets another chance to see the evidence on the afternoon of Wednesday, May 16.This story is a part of the Huguely trial coverage special.