Former UVA student, convicted murderer George Huguely set for sentencing

Posted at 9:33 AM, Aug 30, 2012

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va (WTVR) — Today the case involving former University of Virginia student George Huguely is expected to come to a conclusion.  The convicted murderer is scheduled to be sentenced in Charlottesville today, for killing his ex-girlfriend and UVA lacrosse standout, Yeardley Love.

Huguely is facing 26 years in prison for the 2010 murder.  However the amount of time he receives, could change following today’s sentencing hearing.

In February, a Charlottesville jury convicted Huguely, 24, to second-degree murder in the death of Yeardley Love.  Huguely admitted to breaking into Love’s apartment and slamming her head into a wall repeatedly–but he maintained he never intended to kill his one-time girlfriend.

The jury recommended Huguely spend 25 years behind bars for the killing and an additional year in lock-up for stealing Yeardley Love’s computer following the murder.  CBS 6 News legal analyst Todd Stone said the judge will likely follow the jury’s recommendation and sentence Huguely to the full time behind bars. 

“Very rarely will a judge reduce a jury verdict when a jury has given a recommended sentence,” said Stone.  “A judge has no authority to go above the jury verdict, but the judge can go below.  They (judges) can suspend some of the time recommended.  It’s really unlikely to happen, you don’t see it happening–except for those cases when the jury verdict is way out of line.  This one really isn’t out of line, this was a very rational jury verdict.”

During today’s sentencing hearing, the judge will get the opportunity to hear from Huguely’s friends and family before ruling.  But the defense team will also have the chance to question anyone who takes to the stand.  This means any previous offenses in Huguely’s past could be revealed, playing a part in sentencing.

“I would expect to see family and friends of George Huguely’s testifying.  People who have known him for some time; people who have good things to say about him, ” said Stone.  “Because he (Huguely) like most people in a circumstance like this have some good things in their past, it’s just a matter of a defense attorney to try and bring those out.”

Yeardley Love’s death raised awareness of domestic violence, by prompting a change in Virginia law making it easier to obtain a protective order for victims, regardless if they are married or not.

If a judge moves forward with the jury’s recommended 26 years in prison, Huguely would receive credit for the nearly two years he’s already been locked up.  And with good behavior, he could be released after serving 85 percent of his sentence–leading to a release when Huguely reaches his mid 40’s.

CBS 6 Reporter Catie Beck is covering today’s sentencing hearing, and will have updates throughout the day.