Jury selection begins in U.Va. murder trial

A courtroom sketch of the Huguely trial. (Sketch: Bill Hennessey)

UPDATE: Nineteen potential jurors have been selected. They will return to be interviewed individually Tuesday. More potential jurors will come in Tuesday for group interviews with defense and prosecutors.

A pale, thin George Huguely pleaded not guilty in a Charlottesville court Monday to six counts, including murder, that he faces in connection to the death of Yeardley Love.

The 24-year-old Chevy Chase native faces first-degree murder and several other charges in Charlottesville Circuit Court in the death of Love, a Cavaliers lacrosse player and ex-girlfriend of Huguely who died of head injuries in May 2010.

Huguely walked into the courtroom looking far different than the robust, athletic former college lacrosse player who has been seen in photos in the lead-up to the trial. He immediately made eye contact with his mother and father upon entering the courtroom.

In court Monday, Huguely constantly looked over to his parents, sitting on the front row. On the other side of the courtroom, Lexie Love stared at the man accused of killing her sister Yeardley.

The process of jury selection, which began Monday, has been tedious so far. Members of the jury pool are quizzed about their feelings on domestic violence, alcohol abuse and the culture of male athletes.

The tension in the court was heavy as questions are asked of the people who may be selected to stand in judgment of Huguely.

The potential jurors are quizzed on a variety of issues that give clues to how the defense plans to counter the murder charge against Huguely: Has anyone been a victim of domestic violence? How do they feel about alcohol intoxication as a defense for first degree murder? Do they view male athletes as violent?

"It is possible to empanel a fair jury that has absolutely no knowledge of the facts," said attorney Michael Arif. "It can be done. That's what the attorneys are looking for and that's what the judge is looking for."

Police say Huguely told investigators he kicked in Love's bedroom door and then shook her, causing her head to hit a wall several times.

Huguely's attorneys contend the 22-year-old Love of Cockeysville, Md., died accidentally from an irregular heartbeat partly caused by taking prescription Adderall and drinking alcohol.