The lawyer for George Huguely V essentially conceded in his opening statement today that the former University of Virginia lacrosse player killed his ex-girlfriend Yeardley Love, but said it was an accident.
Huguely is charged with first degree murder as well as other charges,but defense attorney Francis McQ. Lawrence told the jury in his opening statement that her death was not something Huguely planned or wanted to happen.
"Involuntary manslaughter could and should be only thought at this time. Please take careful deliberation," Lawrence said. He repeatedly said that Huguely, 24, had "no intent" to kill Love.
"He's not complicated. He's not complex. He's a lacrosse player," Lawrence said.
But prosecutors in their opening statement told the jury that Huguely, furious that Love had slept with someone else, had sent her a menancing email just days before she died on May 2, 1010.
"I should have killed you," the email stated.
The trial began today with the prosecution and defense both presenting charged opening statements in a case that promises to be both emotional and gruesome.
Lawrence said that while being questioned by police, a shocked Huguely rocked back and forth with his head between his knees saying, "She is not dead. I didn't. I didn't. I didn't…I never did anything that could do that to her. I refuse to believe she is dead because nothing that happened last night could've killed her."
Among the witnesses on the first day of testimony was Love's roommate and friend Caitlin Whiteley, who discovered Love's body on the night of her death.
"She wasn't moving," an tearful Whiteley told the jury. "I remember that her body was still warm, but her feet were cold."
Whiteley described Love's body on the bed and that she noticed "how discolored she was and her face and eyes were so messed up." At one point, a terrified Whiteley went to the bathroom and called her mother while her then-boyfriend attempted to perform CPR on Love.
An enraged Huguely allegedly kicked through the door of Love's bedroom the night she died and shook her, banging her head against the wall, before leaving her bleeding. A bloody Love was later found face-down on her bed by a roommate. Her face was covered in scrapes and bruises, according to a police warrant, and her right eye was swollen shut.
The defense claims that Huguely left Love's apartment thinking that she just had a nose bleed. They also said that he took her computer because he wanted to use it later to make it necessary for her to see him.
A lab took Huguely's clothing and did not find blood on any of it, the defense said.
The defense painted a picture of Huguely and Love's relationship as one that was full of drama, with both college seniors cheating on each other.
It was alleged that Love, 22, was sleeping with another man, enraging Huguely. In April, Love attacked Huguely with her purse when she found out that he had been texting another girl he had seen in the past.
The prosecution focused on Huguely's behavior.
After allegedly learning that Love had slept with someone else, Huguely emailed Love, "I should have killed you," prosecutor Warner Chapman said in his opening statement.
"You should've killed me?" Love responded.
"We should talk tonight," Huguely wrote back.
Chapman's opening statements described Love's allegedly slow and painful death. He described Love's injuries as so bad when her body was discovered that the medical examiner had to dissect her brain to discover the cause of death, which was determined to be "blunt force trauma to the head."
Chapman said that Love lay in her bed for two hours dying after being allegedly assaulted by Huguely.
The description brought Love's mother and sister to tears. Lexie Love, Yeardley Love's sister, hunched over and sobbed as her fiance comforted her.
Chapman also claimed that Huguely had been violent with Love before. He said that three months before Love's death, friends saw Huguely put Love in a choke hold and that she was very embarrassed about the incident.
The trial began this morning following the selection a jury of seven men and seven women, which included two alternates. The trial is expected to last two weeks.
It took two days for the court to whittle down the pool of 160 potential jurors to 14 people. During questioning, many said they would not be able to be impartial in the trial.
Supporters of the Love and Huguely families were in court throughout the lengthy jury selection process, presenting contrasting dynamics between the two groups.
The Love family and their friends often wear pink to court, sitting as a united front. The judge prohibited any insignia in the courtroom. Love's mother Sharon Love and sister Lexie are the center of the group. Yeardley Love's former roommate Caitlin Whiteley has also been in court with a group of friends.
Huguely has shown little emotion, often turning to look at his family and taking notes while potential jurors were questioned. He sat straight in his chair, but the 6-foot-2 athlete's chair was lower than those of his attorneys, making him look smaller.
Huguely's supporters have been dressed in khaki pants, white shirts, navy blazers and colorful ties. His two rows of family members included his mother, her new husband and some young cousins.
Love was a star lacrosse player at the school and a senior just weeks away from graduation. Huguely was also a lacrosse player for the school's nationally ranked team.