Former University of Virginia lacrosse player George Huguely faces up to 26 years in prison after a jury found him guilty late Wednesday of second-degree murder and grand larceny in the death of his ex-girlfriend Yeardley Love.
Huguely was acquitted on charges of first-degree murder, felony murder, robbery, breaking and entering to commit larceny, and breaking and entering to commit assault and battery.
“I think he got off easy,” said HLN’s Jane Velez-Mitchell. “I’m going to say something that’s maybe a little controversial. I think that subliminally his pedigree must have played some kind of role in this.”
The Love family released a statement shortly before the verdict was announced late Wednesday, saying that "We will continue to keep her spirit alive by performing works of kindness in her name.
"We dread looking back on the events of May 3, 2010 and pray for the strength to get through each day. 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," the family said.
University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan said in a statement: "Yeardley's family, teammates, sorority sisters and friends --indeed all of us at the University -- continue to feel the loss of this promising young woman. It remains now to each of us to commit to caring for one another and, when we see someone in trouble, to having the courage to intercede and offer assistance."
Deliberations began Wednesday morning and jurors spent a little over nine hours behind closed doors, including during their lunch break, before they reached a verdict in the death of Yeardley, who was also a UVA student and lacrosse player.
Huguely had pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of the 22-year-old UVA student. Love’s dead body was discovered face-down on her pillow in a pool of blood on May 3, 2010. She had a swollen right eye and severe facial bruising.
Huguely and Love had dated, but police documents indicate their relationship ended just before she died, and that they fought the night before her body was found. Huguely's arrest warrant states he told police that he hit Love during that argument and continually banged her head into the wall.
During closing arguments on Saturday, Huguely’s attorney asked the jury to consider the lesser charger of involuntary manslaughter because the case was not one of murder.
"Yes, George contributed to her death. But no, he didn't kill her ... he left there with her alive, and that is not in dispute. There was no intentional killing, because she wasn't dead when he left," defense attorney Francis Lawrence said. "There's no intent to rob and no intent to kill."
Charlottesville Commonwealth's Attorney Warner D. Chapman told the jury, "When somebody's little girl doesn't wake up the next day, and there's no reason why they shouldn't ... I ask you to do no more, and no less, than to hold him responsible for what he did."
"It goes without saying that this woman is never going to be able to say what happened to her ... but the evidence proves she was killed in the commission of a robbery," he added.