In his ninth grade essay,she wrote about what she wanted to do with her life: attend the University of Virginia, play lacrosse there, become a lawyer, and maintain a close relationship with her family.
Many of her dreams came true, but they ended abruptly and violently when her boyfriend brutally beat her, a lawyer for Love’s family told a jury Tuesday at the
was convicted of second-degree murder and is serving a 23-year prison sentence for Love’s murder. Yeardley and Hugely were playing lacrosse at UVA and were weeks away from graduating when Yeardley was found dead in her off-campus apartment in 2010.
A wrongful death lawsuit filed by Love’s mother, Sharon Love, seeks to hold him civilly liable for her daughter’s death. The suit seeks $29.5 million in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages.
As the civil trial progressed, Paul Bekman, an attorney for Love’s family, showed the jury happy photos of Love with her mother and sister. He described a kind, caring, and loving young woman who played lacrosse, joined a sorority, and kept up with a rigorous academic program at UVA while making sure to talk to her family almost every day.
Bekman told the jury that Love and Huguely had dated for two years, but had a “difficult relationship” that was marred by Huguely’s heavy drinking. He said his teammates will testify about previous violent episodes when Huguely was drunk, including one that occurred about a month or two before Yeardley was killed, when visiting North Carolina lacrosse players heard Love yell, “Help! I can’t breathe.” and he entered Huguely’s room to find Huguely with his “hands around his neck”.
Bekman showed jurors graphic crime scene photos of Love as she lay dead on the floor of her bedroom, her right eye gouged out, her face bloodied, and marks on her shoulder and neck. Love’s mother and sister left the courtroom just before the photos were shown and wept softly during several other parts of the opening statements.
A medical examiner determined that Love died of blunt force injuries to the head.
“She died as a result of a cruel and brutal beating,” Bekman said.
Huguely’s attorney, Matthew Green, told the jury that Huguely admits that he assaulted Love and that his family is entitled to damages in an amount to be determined by the jury. But he said the defense will argue Huguely’s actions do not amount to the “willful and wanton” conduct required to award punitive damages. In fact, Green said, Huguely did not intend to cause Love’s death.
Green urged the jury to focus on the approximately eight to 10 minutes Huguely spent in Love’s apartment the night she was killed. He said Huguely was a “party animal” who started drinking just after the UVA men’s lacrosse team played its last game on May 1, 2010. Huguely’s family was in town for “third party day.” age” and spent the next 30 hours downing 45 to 50 drinks, using a “conservative estimate,” Green said.
The next day, Love and Huguely exchanged angry “immature emails,” but that night they had patched things up and were seen on video holding hands while spending time with Huguely’s family at a bar, Green said. Then, around 11:45 pm, Huguely drunkenly went to Love’s apartment, where he kicked in his bedroom door.
During police questioning early the next morning, Huguely said he only went to Love’s apartment to talk to her, but their argument quickly turned physical. Huguely said Love’s head hit the wall and they wrestled on the floor, but when he left, she only had a bloody nose.
jurors inwatched video of a police questioning that was recorded hours after Love’s body was found in her apartment.
“I have to tell you something,” Det. Lisa Reeves told Huguely after he answered questions about the night’s events. “She’s dead. You killed her.”
“Is she dead? How is she dead?” Huguely asked repeatedly. “Please, please tell me she’s not dead.”
Green said his videotaped interview shows he “just doesn’t believe it.”
“It is clear that he did not understand that a fatal event had occurred,” Green said.
Green said Love’s visible injuries were limited to the right side of her face, which she said is “consistent with a single impact, sort of a fall where her face hits the ground.”
Green said the jury in Huguely’s criminal trial rejected a first-degree murder charge and instead found him guilty of second-degree murder. He is halfway through his 23-year prison sentence.
“Justice has been served,” Green said.
The lawsuit was initially filed in 2012 but was later voluntarily dismissed and then re-filed in 2018.