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Huguely appeal limited to two issues

An indisposed lawyer and a questionable juror are the bases of the two issues that may be considered by the Court of Appeals of Virginia in the case of George Huguely V, the former University of Virginia lacrosse player convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend.

Huguely was found guilty of second degree murder and sentenced to 23 years in prison for the 2010 death of fellow UVa student Yeardley Love.

Huguely’s lawyers raised a number of issues in their bid for an appeal. A single judge of the Court of Appeals last week granted the appeal, but on only two issues.

The first issue is whether Huguely was denied a fair trial when the trial judge refused to delay the proceedings after one of Huguely’s trial lawyers became ill. The other issue is whether one juror should have been struck from the panel because of doubts about her impartiality.

In a 14-page order dated April 23, the court rejected consideration of the absence of malice. Huguely’s lawyers argued the evidence failed to show malice and supported only manslaughter. The reviewing judge – the judge’s identity is not disclosed – reviewed the evidence of the couple’s turbulent relationship and the details of Love’s death.

“Appellant’s behavior indicates his violent anger toward Love,” the judge wrote. “The evidence supports the jury’s finding that appellant acted with malice.”

The appeals court judge also rejected the suggestion that the trial was tainted by the prosecution’s failure to disclose details of the Love family’s planned civil lawsuit against Huguely. The prosecution had signaled the possibility of a civil suit, and Huguely’s lawyers – with reasonable diligence – could have learned the details, the judge said.

Either side can ask for a review of the writ decision by a three-judge panel.

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