Judge rejects appeal from a former University of Virginia lacrosse player seeking to have his 2012 murder conviction tossed claiming jury improperly consulted a dictionary to look up definition of ‘malice’
- George Huguely V, 32, is serving a 25-year sentence for the 2010 beating death of 22-year-old Yeardley Love
- Huguely was convicted in 2012 of second-degree murder and filed several appeals to have verdict tossed
- His latest appeal focused on claim that jury improperly consulted dictionary to look up definition of ‘malice’
- Huguely’s lawyers argued using a dictionary would be equivalent to reviewing inadmissible evidence
- Federal judge dismissed appeal based on testimony from 26 witnesses who said no dictionary was used
A federal judge has rejected an appeal from a former University of Virginia lacrosse player who argued that his 2012 murder conviction should be thrown out over an allegation that the jury improperly used a dictionary.
George Huguely V, 32, is serving a 25-year sentence for the 2010 beating death of 22-year-old Yeardley Love, who was herself a lacrosse player at UVA and was two weeks away from graduation when she was killed.
Huguely, of Maryland, has filed multiple unsuccessful appeals. But in a ruling in December, US District Judge Thomas Cullen in Roanoke opened up a narrow window for Huguely and ordered an evidentiary hearing to be held to determine whether the jury improperly used a dictionary to look up the definition of ‘malice.’
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A federal judge has rejected an appeal from convicted killer George Huguely V (left), who argued that his conviction for the murder of Yeardley Love (right) should be tossed over the jury’s alleged use of a dictionary
Love, 22, was a lacrosse player at the University of Virginia when she was beaten to death inside her bedroom in 2010
A finding of malice was necessary to convict Huguely of murder, and his appellate attorneys argued that using a dictionary would be equivalent to reviewing inadmissible evidence; jury instructions already contained a detailed legal definition of malice that should have guided the jury’s discussions.
At a virtual hearing Friday, Cullen dismissed the appeal and said the juror’s claim that a dictionary was used was outweighed by testimony of 26 other witnesses to the contrary, according to Attorney General Mark Herring’s office, which argued to uphold the conviction.
In court papers, Cullen had previously noted that the juror’s claims about use of a dictionary were inconsistent, and that the dictionary was alternately described as a single sheet of paper, a collection of papers and a hardbound book.
Huguely, also a varsity lacrosse player at UVA, was in a volatile relationship with Love. The on-again, off-again couple had accused one another of infidelity
Love (right) was found face down in a pool of blood on her pillow after having her head bashed into a wall during a fight with Huguely
Attorneys for Huguely indicated to the judge at the conclusion of Friday’s hearing that they plan to appeal. Jon Sheldon, one of Huguely’s attorneys, declined to comment after the hearing.
Huguely and Love, both seniors at the time and varsity lacrosse players at UVA, had a volatile relationship that escalated to a deadly confrontation on the night of May 2, 2010. Huguely had spent the day drinking heavily and golfing.
Huguely in 2012 was found guilty of second-degree murder in 2012 (pictured at the time)
Witnesses found Love in the bedroom of her Charlottesville apartment lying face down in a pool of blood on her pillow. She had a large bruise on the right side of her face.
In a police interrogation video played at his trial, Huguely admitted he and Love had a physical confrontation, and that he kicked in Love’s door and shook her. But he denied inflicting the fatal injuries Love suffered.
He said she had banged her head against her bedroom wall. A coroner concluded she died of blunt force trauma.
Love’s death followed months of tension between the two young athletes. Former teammates and friends testified that both of them accused the other of infidelity – and they described incidents of Huguely’s drinking.
Huguely was eventually charged with second-degree murder for her death. His defense argued that the murder was ‘not intended, but an accident with a tragic outcome.’
The jury convicted Huguely at a high-profile trial in 2012. It rejected a first-degree murder conviction that could have resulted in a life sentence.
The Court of Appeals of Virginia affirmed Huguely’s conviction in 2014.
His lawyers unsuccessfully tried to get his murder conviction overturned in the Supreme Court in 2015, claiming his Sixth Amendment rights were violated when his trial continued without one of his attorneys.
Huguely, who is serving a 25-year sentence, has made repeated attempts to appeal his conviction over the last eight years