Jury deliberation underway in Huguely murder trial

Posted at 10:47 AM, Feb 22, 2012
and last updated 2012-02-28 18:46:08-05

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WTVR) – Court has now resumed in the George Huguely V murder trial case. Closing arguments ended Saturday and the court was recessed three days. The trial now enters its third week.

Today two alternates of the jury were dismissed, leaving seven men and five women to deliberate the fate of Huguely. One of the jurors dismissed was been seen crying last week.

Huguely, 24, faces six charges in connection with the death of his ex-girlfriend Yeardley Love; first-degree murder, felony murder, robbery, burglary, statutory burglary and grand larceny.

Hordes of media gathered outside the courtroom, more than the usual circus, in anticipation for the verdict.

The camera crews and reporters hover on standby and a podium is set for a possible press conference.

The jurors were instructed to select a foreman. Judge Edward Hogshire said he is “really optimistic” but hopes to finish the trial today.

All the evidence, including Love’s broken bedroom door that Huguely confessed to kicking in, was taken into the jury room. The jury also earlier requested the taped video interrogation.

Huguely and his defense attorneys, Francis Lawrence and co-counsel Rhonda Quagliana, have left the courtroom. Love’s family is sitting in courtroom, talking amongst themselves and the prosecution, Charlottesville Commonwealth’s attorney Dave Chapman joins them.

Today the jury will deliberate between degrees of murder. In his opening statement, Lawrence used pleaded with the jury, using several examples to support his statement that, “Involuntary manslaughter is the only verdict that requires your careful thought and deliberation.”

Lawrence said that Huguely’s intoxication level, with an estimated 20 drinks throughout the day, rendered premeditation-which must be proven in first-degree manslaughter cases-impossible. “It’s amazingly thoughtless, but it was not calculated,” said Lawrence.

Throughout the trial Lawrence has consistently sketched Huguely as a simple, not complex lacrosse player incapable of premeditated cold blooded murder. “He is what you get,” said Lawrence. “He’s a boy athlete.”

Judge Hogshire asked jurors if they would be willing to forego lunch recess if pizza was ordered.

After 90 minutes deliberating, the jury re-entered the courtroom and asked Judge Hogshire the definition of reason, per their set of instructions.

The question is likely related to a lesser degree murder charge, where the existence of malice requires the suspect’s mind to be under control of reason.

The judge replied that it meant the usual definition of reason.

Here are the statutory penalty ranges for each charge:

  • First-degree murder:  Whether as premeditated or as felony murder, ranges from 20 years to life.
  • Second-degree murder: Ranges from 5 to 40 years.
  • Manslaughter: Voluntary or involuntary, ranges from 0 to 10 years.
  • Burglary:  He is charged with two counts of burglary, but he only went in once, so although the jury could find him guilty under both indictments, the judge would actually sentence him under only one of the following two counts.
  • Statutory burglary ranges from 0 to 20 years.
  • Burglary (not to be confused with statutory burglary) ranges from 5 to 20 years.
  • Grand larceny ranges from 0 to 20 years.
  • Robbery ranges from 5 years to life.

Both the prosecution and defense can call witnesses during sentencing.

The jury has the authority to sentence anywhere within the statutory range. Whatever the jury decides, it is a recommendation of actual time to serve and the judge then has the authority to suspend some of the time at a later date.

CBS 6 legal analyst Todd Stone said that would probably be a couple months from now, after the judge reviewed “sentencing guidelines” and a pre-sentence report.

Most of the time, however, the judge will follow the jury’s recommendation, said Stone.

CBS 6 has team coverage at the trial and will keep you updated throughout the day.