Jurors recommend 26 years for Huguely sentencing

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WTVR) -- After twelve days in court, ten days of testimony, and twelve hours of deliberation, the George Huguely V jury reached a verdict and recommended his jail sentence.

Huguely, 24, was found guilty of second-degree murder and grand larceny. He was found not guilty of the four other charges; felony murder, robbery, burglary, and statutory burglary.

The verdict was reached at 6:45 p.m., after nine hours.

Huguely was seen earlier rubbing his eyes but no tears were visible, and no dramatic emotion ran across his face. His head hung with eyes downcast during the sentencing phase. The two charges combined could have brought him maximum of 60 years.

Instead the jury recommended sentencing of 26 years total; 25 for second degree murder and 1 for grand larceny.

During the sentencing phase, which many thought would stretch into the night, the prosecution only called two victim impact witnesses--Sharon and Lexie Love.

Both cried heavily during their testimony. Lexie was on the stand almost fifteen minutes. She said that despite her upcoming marriage, “there is a huge hole that is always going to be there and I'm never going to be able to fill it.”

“There is nothing I can do about it,” she spoke, through tears. “The number one worst thing had happened.”

Charlottesville Commonwealth's attorney Dave Chapman spoke strongly as he navigated a familiar passage, referring to Yeardley Love's vulnerability at home, a place where she should be safe. Instead, he said, she lay dying.

“Somebody's little girl didn't wake up,” he said.

The defense chose not to call any witnesses, a surprise to many who thought Huguely's parents would speak. CBS 6 legal analyst Todd Stone said that the defense employed a wise strategy by not calling any sentencing witnesses. The prosecution would have had the opportunity to call rebuttals, said Stone.

“What brought us here is in a way the worst combination of what-ifs,” said co-counsel Rhonda Quagliana.

She appealed to the jury to see the “seeds of redemption,” contained in the letter that Huguely had offered Love as an apology after putting her in a chokehold.

It was a letter that the jury asked to see. In it, Huguely told Love that “alcohol is ruining my life.”

This was a set-up, yet again for the defense, to pound home the message that Huguely was a jock; simple not complex. A message that seemed to work, with premeditation being eliminated from the murder charge.

This time the defense said that Huguely was into “sports, sex and alcohol,” lacking foresight and maturity.

But people mature, she said. Just remember, “our system is not based on retribution.” she said.

The jury deliberated almost two hours to debate sentencing.

Between the two charges, Huguely faced a maximum of 60 years. He will serve 34 less than that.

The jury's recommendation of actual time can be suspended by the judge at a later date.

Hogshire said that court will reconvene on April 16, 2012, at 9:30 a.m., and final sentencing will be determined then.

CBS 6 legal analyst Todd Stone said most of the time, the judge will follow the jury's recommendation.