Jury: UVa Killer George Huguely Should Get 26 Years in Jail

George Huguely was found guilty of second degree murder.

ByABC News
February 22, 2012, 9:45 AM

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., Feb. 22, 2012 — -- A jury recommended that a judge sentence George Huguely V to 26 years in prison just hours after finding him guilty of second-degree murder in the beating death of his ex-girlfriend, Yeardley Love, at the University of Virginia.

The jury recommended 25 years in prison for the second-degree murder conviction and one year for a grand larceny conviction resulting from an allegation that Huguley stole Love's laptop.

Circuit Judge Edward Hogshire is scheduled to formally sentence Huguely, 24, on April 16.

Huguely, of Chevy Chase, Md., had his head down in court as the sentence recommendation was announced.

The Charlottesville, Va., jury of five women and seven men reached its guilty verdicts after nine hours behind closed doors. The sentencing recommendation came about three hours later.

Huguely was accused of killing Love in a drunken rage in 2010 just weeks before she was to graduate from the University of Virginia. Both Huguely and Love were star lacrosse players on the university's elite teams.

Two jurors gave ABC News their rationale for the verdict on their way out of the courthouse.

"We worked hard to come to a fair, just verdict," one juror said. "We had a good team -- educated, well-informed people. We all really believe justice was served. Everyone felt good about our decision."

The juror said there did not appear to be "premeditation," so they could not convict Huguely on the first-degree murder charge.

Members of the Huguely family were visibly upset as they left the courthouse.

A little girl, one of Huguely's cousins, was crying hysterically and saying, "That's too much."

Huguely's mother was kept protected on the inside of the group and Huguely family members did not speak to the media.

Huguely's attorney, Francis McQ. Lawrence, said the defense was "disappointed with this verdict but proud to represent George over the years."

"He has the support of a loving family, has displayed amazing resilience and courage, is hopeful and spiritual, and we look forward to some corrections on what happened here tonight," Lawrence said. "The courtroom saw his remorse during various times during the trial."

Sharon and Lexie Love, Yeardley Love's mother and sister, left the courthouse from a side exit and also did not speak to the media, though they released a written statement after the sentencing.

"We dread looking back on the events of May 3, 2010 and pray for the strength to get through each day," they wrote. "Time has not made us miss Yeardley any less, in fact quite the opposite. It is truly devastating to wake up each day and realize that she is no longer here. Yeardley's contagious smile, kind spirit and gentle touch have left this world but we know that heaven has an angel like no other. We will continue to keep her spirit alive by performing works of kindness in her name. We would like to thank the commonwealth and particularly [prosecutor] Dave Chapman for his tireless efforts on our behalf.

"Our hearts burst with pride when we think of Yeardley's accomplishments but our hearts melt when we remember her kindness and grace. We have received letters from so many people telling us stories of her many acts of kindness. Intelligence and athletic ability are God given talents. Kindness and compassion are choices ... choices that Yeardley made every day without a second thought. We'd like to thank everyone for their kindness and respect of our privacy during such a difficult time."