Opening statements in the high-profile trial of George W. Huguely V, charged with murder in the death of his former University of Virginia girlfriend, are expected Wednesday in Charlottesville Circuit Court.
Attorneys plan to complete the jury selection process first thing in the morning. They spent the past two days methodically selecting potential jurors from a pool of about 160, working well beyond business hours to find objective candidates who hadn't already formed an opinion about Huguely's guilt or innocence based on media reports.
Yeardley Love's body was found bruised and lying in a pool of blood in the early morning hours of May 3, 2010, shocking the community in the quiet college town. Her death and the arrest of her popular boyfriend made national headlines, and few in the jury pool were unaware of the case.
Many of those brought in Tuesday said they had already formed opinions.
"He's guilty," said one. "He probably did it," said another. Huguely took in all this with little reaction. He again sat with his two lawyers at the defense table, wearing a dark sport coat, as he had on Monday, the first day of the process.
Huguely is accused of attacking Love in her off-campus apartment after a night of drinking, and taking her laptop as he left. He is charged with first-degree murder and grand larceny, among other crimes, and pleaded not guilty to all charges on Monday. His trial is expected to last two weeks.
Both he and Love were fourth-year students on the verge of graduation at the time of her death. They knew one another through the close-knit world of college athletics; each played lacrosse. They also came from similar backgrounds, attending elite private preparatory schools. Huguely, who grew up in Chevy Chase, studied at the Landon School in Bethesda. Love, who was from Cockeysville, attended Notre Dame Preparatory School in Towson.
Sister Patricia McCarron, Notre Dame's headmistress, sent a message to parents Tuesday, asking for their prayers for the Love family "as they begin this difficult journey."
The school has established a scholarship in Love's name and will begin construction this spring on a turf field dedicated to her, using $1 million in funds raised by the One Love Foundation, (www.joinonelove.org), a nonprofit created by Love's family in her honor.
"We are proud to claim Yeardley as one of 'our girls' — she was a talented young woman who was truly the embodiment of her name ... Love," McCarron wrote.
Love's mother and older sister were seated on the right side of the courtroom during jury selection. They are expected to be among the first witnesses called once the testimony phase of the trial begins.
Huguely's relatives sat to the left. Many of them are included on the list of potential witnesses, as well. The defense team also plans to call several doctors, who are expected to counter claims that Love died of "blunt force trauma," as determined in a medical examiner's report.
Huguely's attorneys have previously suggested that prescription Adderall combined with alcohol may have contributed to her death. Huguely has admitted getting into a physical altercation with her before she died, though he has said he didn't kill her, according to police records.
Charlottesville seemed to grow smaller as the jury selection process moved forward. Many candidates are U.Va. employees and former students; two were spouses of 45 years.
In one instance, a university microbiologist told the judge his colleague was dating a newscaster. Seconds later, the woman, who was watching the proceeding from a remote viewing location set up for media, exclaimed, "That's my boyfriend's boss!"
By 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, 28 jury candidates had been selected and asked to return Wednesday.
"It appears that we have reached the magic number," Judge Edward Hogshire said.
Of the 28 left, one woman is expected to be dismissed because she has conflicting travel plans, and 12 others will be stricken by attorneys — six chosen from each side. The remaining candidates will make up the jury and three alternates.