UVa. killer petitions for new trial

Posted at 10:25 PM, Jan 22, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-23 07:07:17-05

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WTVR)—Court documents obtained by CBS 6 show that the attorneys for convicted killer and former University of Virginia student George Huguely V have petitioned for a new trial.

Huguely’s attorneys allege that there were many missteps that ultimately led to their client’s conviction in the death of his ex-girlfriend Yeardley Love. Huguely, 25, was convicted of second-degree murder and grand larceny a year ago. He was sentenced to 23 years for murder, plus one concurrent year for the grand larceny conviction in August 2012 for stealing her computer.

His legal team cited a number of “constitutional and procedural errors” in the trial which they wish to appeal.  Documents show that the defense believes that the instructions given to jurors on malice were “inadequate.”

One of main issues, attorneys said, is that the jurors were not properly instructed on the meaning of “malice,” a pivotal term in the trial that separated second-degree murder from manslaughter.

“Mr. Huguely requested an additional sentence in the jury instruction clarifying that malice requires ‘a wicked or corrupt motive’ or an ‘evil mind,'” Huguely’s attorneys wrote in the filing. “The circuit court rejected that request even though this Court and the Virginia Supreme Court have repeatedly included this language in the definition of malice.”

During deliberations, the jury requested additional clarification about the definition of malice.

“The evidence was thus insufficient to support a conviction for any offense more serious than manslaughter,” the attorneys wrote in the petition they filed with the court. [BONUS: PDF: Huguely Petition For New Trial]

Additionally the lawyers contend that had it been disclosed that the Love’s had planned a thirty-million dollar civil suit, they would have utilized different strategy. Yeardley Love’s mother and sister—plaintiffs in the civil suit—were not cross-examined by the defense.

The new petition argues that “Had the jurors been aware of the impending civil suit, they could have considered the financial ramifications of that suit as part of Mr. Huguely’s overall punishment.”

The 62-page report declares that Judge Edward Hogshire denied Huguely the right to his chosen lawyer, Rhonda Quagliana, when she was sick.

It also claims the jury selection process was flawed and biased against Huguely, referring to the denied request to sequester jurors in light of the heavy national media presence.

“Unfortunately, the circuit court’s response to the intense media interest was to rush through the trial, rather than to ensure that the accused received a fair trial,” the attorneys wrote.

Prosecutors have 30 days to file a response to the appeal.

Huguely’s mother, Martha Murphy, released a statement through her lawyers that said,”we have faith in our legal system and look forward to the appeals process ahead. George continues to have the love and support of his family.”

It could be at least a year before Huguely finds out if he gets a new trial.

We will continue to follow this case and post any new developments.