UVA trial: Defense starts case

Huguely claimed in a taped interview that Love banged her head against the wall repeatedly while he asked her to stop. (Sketch: Bill Hennessy)

After six days of prosecution witnesses, defense attorneys got a chance to present their case Wednesday in the murder trial of George Huguely after the prosecution rested its case.

Fran Lawrence says Huguely just wanted to talk to murder victim Yeadley Love the night she died, that he had absolutely no intent to hurt or kill her.

One defense witness, a forensic specialist said Love had a high level of alcohol in her system after her body was discovered.

The defense's medical expert says Love likely died from suffocating in her pillow after heavy drinking.

According to witnesses earlier in the day Wednesday, Huguely appeared desperate to seek female companionship just before and even after Yeardley Love died. One woman said she had only met Huguely once but he had called her after midnight on May 3 to get together. She said no.

Prosecutors say it was during those moments Love was slowly dying in her apartment, after a violent encounter with a drunk Huguely.

Earlier, Huguely had texted two other women who testified they hardly knew him.

Teammates and roommates of Huguely describe the UVA lacrosse player's drinking as out of control and to the point of ridiculous. The parade of these witnesses made the courtroom atmosphere thick with tension. All had been good friends with Love, two even calling her a best friend.

Ken Clausen, who was a pall bearer at Love's funeral was bristling with insistence that Huguely had been drinking excessively in the days and hours before love's death. He said Huguely was belligerent, even urinating in public outside a Charlottesville restaurant.

Clausen told the court that when Huguely came back to his apartment before midnight, he acted strange. Clausen said he asked Huguely, three times, “George what is wrong?” Huguely didn't respond. Love was found dead a couple of hours later in her apartment bedroom.

During this testimony, Huguely seemed more animated than in past days, looking at the spectators, the jury and the judge. As each of his friends took the witness stand, they never looked his way.