George Huguely V, the former University of Virginia lacrosse player who is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence after being convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend, wants his conviction tossed out. Huguely’s lawyers filed an appeal yesterday in the Court of Appeals of Virginia, arguing that a prolonged illness that kept out one of his trial attorneys as well as his case’s high profile made it impossible for him to get a fair process.
Huguely was convicted last year in the May 2010 death of his former girlfriend and fellow UVA lacrosse player, Yeardley Love. In yesterday’s filing, Huguely’s appellate lawyers Craig S. Cooley and Paul Clement write that because one of Huguely’s trial attorneys, Rhonda Quagliana, missed several days of proceedings with a nasty stomach bug, the defense was forced to call several witnesses out of order when the judge refused grant a short break to allow Quagliana to recover.
“The circuit court’s insistence that Mr. Huguely proceed in the absence of his retained counsel of choice violated his Sixth Amendment right to counsel and requires a new trial,” the appeal brief reads.
Additionally, Cooley and Clement argue that because of the nonstop attention shed on the case by local and national media, it was practically impossible to find an impartial jury pool in Charlottesville. “In short, there were likely few, if any, citizens of Charlottesville who were not familiar with this case throughout he university, the nonstop media coverage, or discussions with family, friends, and co-workers,” the brief reads.
Virginia state attorneys have until Sept. 3 to file their response.