George Huguely V’s losing streak in Virginia courts against a murder conviction are likely to continue Thursday when he faces sentencing for killing Yeardley Love in May 2010.
And when the criminal case concludes, the civil cases could present more pain for Huguely and his family, members of Washington’s business elite for more than a century. New charges in the civil suits paint an even darker portrait of Huguely, nail the system for allowing his behavior to worsen, and bring Landon School back into the tragic affair.
Albermarle Circuit Court judge Edward L. Hogshire is scheduled to rule Thursday on a jury’s recommendation that Huguely, 24, spend 26 years behind bars for killing Love with his bare hands more than two years ago. Both were seniors at the University of Virginia at the time. Lawyers for Huguely had tried to postpone the sentencing, and asked Hogshire for a new trial. The judge ruled against Huguely on both matters.
Legal observers predict Hogshire will affirm the jury’s verdict of second-degree murder and the 26-year sentence.
“The trial went slowly and methodically,” says Hawes Spencer, editor of the Hook, a Charlottesville weekly that covered the case. “There’s no community urge to go softer on George Huguely. It would be very controversial if he softened the verdict. Looks like he’ll be a 44-year-old man when he gets out of jail.” That’s based on two years he’s served and other potential reductions. Virginia does not have parole.
During the trial in February, prosecutors presented evidence that Huguely had a history of violent behavior, especially when drunk. They convinced jurors that Huguely, previously a star lacrosse player at Bethesda’s Landon School, had been drinking all day with his father and friends days before he was to graduate. Huguely and Love, also a lacrosse player, had dated for years but were estranged. Huguely admitted to kicking in Love’s apartment door, struggling with her, and leaving her bleeding on her bed.
Based on those facts, Love’s mother, Sharon, and sister, Lexie, have filed two civil suits, each for $30 million. One charges Huguely with wrongful death. The more interesting and detailed case charges Huguely’s UVA lacrosse coaches, Dom Starsia and Marc Van Arsdale, the school’s athletic director, Craig Littlepage, and the Commonwealth of Virginia with gross negligence.
The Loves claim that Huguely’s coaches knew Huguely had beat up another lacrosse player whom he suspected of kissing Love. The coaches counseled the two and urged the victim to seek medical help, but “no action was taken” to suspend Huguely or refer him for treatment.
The lawsuit also claims that Huguely assaulted a tennis player he saw walking with Love.
In the most surprising claim, the Loves charge that Huguely allegedly assaulted “a young woman, also a UVA student, whom Huguely accused of telling her father, Huguely’s former high school lacrosse coach, about his chronic intoxication and rage. . . .”
The student was Claire Bordley, daughter of Rob Bordley, the veteran coach of Landon School’s often top-ranked lacrosse team.
“If the civil case goes to court,” says Spencer, “we may hear these details that paint a picture of a young man whose outburst against Yeardley Love is not only not unusual but par for the course. He comes off as a thug.”
If the case goes to trial, maybe we will find more reason to believe Yeardley Love’s death might have been prevented.