CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. Feb. 9, 2012 — -- The man whose on-and-off relationship with Yeardley Love allegedly enraged George Huguely V testified today that he once witnessed Huguely trapping a hysterical Love in a violent choke hold.
Michael Burns, a University of North Carolina lacrosse player, told jurors that in February 2010, he heard cries of "Help me, help me," coming from Love's bedroom and went in to find Huguely throttling Love.
"I saw George's hands around Yeardley's neck," Burns said. Prosecutor Warner "Dave" Chapman had Burns stand up in court and demonstrate what he saw.
Huguely released her and turned to the wall as Love ran out of the room. Burns said that she was crying hysterically and said to him, "Thank you so much. I couldn't breathe."
The relationship between Burns and Love infuriated Huguely who allegedly said in an e-mail to Love days before her death, "When I found out about Mike Burns, I should have killed you."
Burns told the court that although he and Love were not dating, they had "hooked up" a few times over the course of their college years, including the night he walked in on the choke hold. The last time they had been together was April 25, 2010. Love was found dead on May 3.
Huguely, 24, is charged with first degree murder as well as five other charges in the death of his ex-girlfriend and University of Virginia classmate.
Love, 22, 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.
A number of Love and Huguely's friends and teammates testified today, and alcohol consumption was a main point of discussion. Friends said that Huguely drank four times a week, getting drunk each time. His teammates were so concerned that they were planning an intervention after the end of the season.
Stephanie Aladj, one of Love's sorority sisters, was among the former students who testified. Love was supposedly upset that Huguley was texting Aladj who described her relationship with Huguely as "on and off again." She said that she and Love were on good terms.
Earlier today Dr. Danny Mistry, the primary care physician for UVA sports teams, told the court that Love was an athlete in excellent shape.
When the doctor was asked if there was any medical reason Love should have passed away on May 3, 2010, he said, "No...She was in very good shape," Mistry said.
The second day of testimony began with a police officer who gave a graphic description of what he found when he arrived at Love's apartment. Jurors also saw photos of Love's lifeless body, drawing sobs from her family in the courtroom while Huguely kept his head down.
Charlottesville Police Officer K.W. Blackwell was one of the first responders to arrive at Love's room and find her on the floor. The officer was responding to a 911 call for a possible alcohol overdose.
"I realized it was nowhere near the report that came in," Blackwell said.
"Her right eye was swollen shut…she had a black eye," Blackwell told the court. "There was dried blood around her mouth and nose."
Jurors were shown the first graphic photos of the trial this morning. They saw images of EMTs attempting to revive Love, which brought her family to tears. Huguely's head was down while the photos were up.
"There was no sign of life," EMT Michael Hanshew testified. He said medics tried to resuscitate Love for about 25 minutes with no success.
Spectators in the courtroom could not see the images. An attorney representing a number of news outlets is filing a request for the photos to be made public.
When Charlottesville Sgt. Det. Shawn Bayles arrived at Love's apartment, he said he noticed the large hole in the door and asked rescue personnel if forced entry was required.
"After seeing the damage, I stepped into the room and I saw the young lady on the floor," Bayles testified. "What I saw changed what happened. From my experience, I could see that she was obviously the victim of violence."
Prosecutors claim that Huguely kicked a hole in Love's bedroom door and put his hand through the hole to unlock the door.
Huguely's attorney Francis McQ. Lawrence told the jury in his opening statement that Love's 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 had "no intent" to kill Love.
"He's not complicated. He's not complex. He's a lacrosse player," Lawrence said.
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."
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 painted a picture of Huguely and Love's relationship as one that was full of drama, with both college seniors cheating on each other.