George Huguely to be sentenced for murder of Yeardley Love

George Huguely arrives Thursday to be sentenced for killing Yeardley Love. (Photo: Suzanne Kennedy)

George Huguely, the former University of Virginia lacrosse player who killed his ex-girlfriend, faces a 26-year prison term at his sentencing in Charlottesville.

Huguely is scheduled to be formally sentenced Thursday by Circuit Judge Edward Hogshire for the May 2010 beating death of Yeardley Love.

Huguely arrived at the courthouse at 12:22 p.m. He was escorted from a police van by officers with his cuffed hands in front of him, and his hair noticeably longer than his most recent public appearance. He appeared sullen and his eyes didn’t wander to the back of television cameras directly above him.

"This man here is still fighting for his life," Huguely's defense attorney said.{ }

During the sentencing, his aunt, Maria Fisher, said Huguely was a happy, good-natured child who was well loved and respected. He earned good grades and was an honor student.

She also defended Huguely's beating up a friend because, “he was hooking up with his girlfriend.”

A Charlottesville Catholic priest who didn’t know Huguely says he visited the defendant every week for two years since soon after the arrest. “We never talked about that night," the priest says. "We spoke about his faith... his family."

A female college friend whose father is the Landon School lacrosse coach said she had told her father about Huguely’s “excessive drinking.”

The next semester, Huguely approached her at a bar, yelled at her and “grabbed me with both hands around my neck.” She acknowledged that she and Huguely never dated but had brief sexual encounters.

Attorneys for a former University of Virginia lacrosse player convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend are asking a judge to reduce a jury's recommended sentence of 26 years, offering an appeal from his mother for leniency for her "beautiful son."

Huguely V's attorneys are seeking a sentence of 14 years in the May 2010 slaying, according to a filing Wednesday in Charlottesville Circuit Court.

Jurors who convicted him of second-degree murder recommended 26 years, including 1 year for grand larceny.

On May 2, 2010, Love's roommate found the lacrosse player face down on her pillow in a pool of blood. Within hours, Huguely was charged with her murder.

Waiving his Miranda rights, Huguely told investigators he and Love has a heated physical encounter in her bedroom, but he denied killing her.

Two months later, a medical examiner reported Love died from blunt force trauma to the head.

After nearly 20 months of collecting evidence, Huguely's trial began last February in Charlottesville despite attempts by the defense for a change in venue. About 60 witnesses took the stand during the 10-day trial.

Medical experts offered contrasting views on how Love died.

Prosecutors say Huguely kicked in the door to Love's off-campus apartment in a drunken rage, beating her to the point of unconsciousness and running off with her computer.

Defense attorneys maintain Huguely is not a killer, calling Love's death a "terrible, terrible accident."

Michael Rodi, who observed the trial, said, "People always try to have this conversation; Do you think he did it? Do you think it was manslaughter? Do you think he meant to do it or do you think he was out-of-control?"

It took only hours for a jury to find the former lacrosse player guilty. A first degree murder charge would've carried a life sentence.

But not everyone agreed the murder was premeditated.

Two months after the trial, Love's mother, Sharon Love, broke her family's silence.

"My daughter was murdered almost two years ago at the University of Virginia by an out-of-control lacrosse player with a violent past...Our lives will never be the same," Sharon said.

Huguely recently lost a bid for a new trial. A judge found there was overwhelming evidence to support his conviction.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.