The sun may have been shining on the UVA men's lacrosse team as they took to the field for practice Sunday, but the #1 ranked team is playing in the shadow of a grisly murder and the possibility that one of their own could face the death penalty.
Fourth year lacrosse player George Huguely stands accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend Yeardley Love, who played for the UVA womens lacrosse team, last week. If convicted, it's a crime that could cost Huguely his life, former prosecutor Robin Sax said.
"It's certainly a possibility right now, especially when the defense came right out of the bank and says that this may be an accident," Sax told "Good Morning America" today. "This is only something that could incite and inflame the prosecutors to consider the death penalty.
"You don't even necessarily need to have premeditated murder here... This is law school 101. This is a felony murder that happened in the course of a burglary," she said.
Police said the Huguely told them he took Love's computer -- which he said contained messages from Huguely -- after the couple had an altercation in the apartment the night she was killed.
But to defense attorney Mark Geragos, who is not connected to this case, the severity of the charge may hinge on Huguely's mental state at the time of the attack -- a state that he says does not likely merit the death penalty.
"This is not the type of case that generally prosecutors will seek the death penalty in," Geragos said. "He's going to argue, 'Well, I had no intent to kill and I didn't have malice. I never wanted to kill her. I loved her.'
"The defense in this case is going to try and fight this out on the mental element as to whether or not [he] had malice," he said.
Murder without malice equals a reduced sentence of manslaughter, Geragos said.
But Sax said the fact that Huguely's had previous violent incidents will not help his chances.
"That's something that will definitely be thought out," she said. "I think either way it doesn't help him. It will certainly hurt him, having some sort of prior altercation."
Yeardley Love, the promising young athlete that was found in a pool of her own blood in bed last week, was laid to rest near her family's home in Baltimore last weekend.
Family, friends, former classmates and lacrosse teammates filled Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Baltimore for a 90-minute funeral service closed to members of the media, The Associated Press reported. The service was followed by a private burial.
The service came after her friends gathered Friday evening in Towson, Maryland for Love's wake.
"Nobody wants to hear that such a sweet girl has suffered through such tragedy," said Love's friend, Allie Stack, on Friday.
"The whole family loved to laugh," said a family friend, Leigh Erlandson, "and it's going to be a long time until they can laugh again."
For Love's family, her mother Sharon and older sister Lexie, the last week has likely been nothing short of a nightmare, beginning with the gruesome discovery early Monday morning of Love's body, face-down and bloodied in her bed.
Scheduled to graduate on May 23 with the rest of her class, Love now will receive her degree posthumously.