Almost 45: Huguely likely facing middle-age prison release
So how long will UVA student-turned-killer George Huguely be in prison? According to a reporter's math, the young man jailed since the very morning that he violently awakened and then brutally beat ex-girlfriend Yeardley Love to death faces 22.1 years behind bars. That's based on the 26-year sentence recommended in February by a Charlottesville jury, tempered by Virginia's rule that prisoners must serve at least 85 percent of their time, and despite the right of Judge Edward Hogshire to lessen the jury's recommendation.
"Unless there's some new information that's compellingly mitigating," says Hook legal analyst David Heilberg, "the judge in all likelihood will uphold the jury's sentence."
That means the now 24-year-old Huguely– credited for time served since his early morning May 3, 2010 attack– is on track to remain behind bars until June 2032, about three months shy of his 45th birthday.
Even then, Huguely won't be free from state control. For the past dozen years, Virginia judges have been required to give all jailed felons an additional 6-to-36-month term that's suspended as long as the felon complies with all terms of the sentence and of post-release supervision.
So Huguely, whose own defense acknowledged his weakness for alcohol, might wind up seeing additional time if, for instance, he's ordered to stay off booze and then gets caught drinking.
Whatever his behavior, post-release supervision would probably happen in Virginia, according to Heilberg, because transferring supervision to another state– such as Huguely's home state of Maryland– would require approval from Charlottesville Circuit Court, the Department of Corrections, and from the receiving state.
As for what the public can expect to see at the August 30 sentencing, Heilberg says there will be a pre-sentencing report entered into the record, perhaps a sealed psychiatric evaluation, maybe a few words from a probation officer, and there might be some letters or testimony from friends and relatives asserting how the almost-college-graduated Huguely could still play a helpful role in society.
"The judge has heard it all before," says Heilberg.
The defense can't afford to make too many pronouncements about Huguely's penchant for peace. Otherwise, Heilberg says, the prosecutor might be tempted to haul out so-called "rebuttal witnesses."
In this case, a rebuttal might come from the Lexington police officer who could tell a tale of a berzerking drunk who was Tased before he was subdued. Or the court might hear from "the teammate," the fellow lacrosse player who, a civil lawsuit against the state asserts, Huguely allegedly attacked in a jealous rage. (According to that same civil suit, there are at least two other victims of Huguely's violent rage– a UVA men's tennis player whom Huguely saw walking near the UVA Grounds with Love– and a female who Huguely allegedly assaulted in high school.)
"They've got a real uphill battle," Heilberg says of the defense. "A jury verdict, which includes the sentencing, is thought to represent the community, and judges won't tamper with that without a really good reason."
–the image accompanying this story changed on Tuesday, August 28Read more on: George Huguely