Yeardley Love murder trial: Judge to decide on access to medical records
(ABC7, AP) A Virginia judge ruled Monday that TV cameras won't be allowed in the courtroom during the trial of George Huguely, who's accused of murdering a University of Virginia lacrosse player in May of 2010.
Attorneys for Huguely, however, will be allowed to examine her medical records, a judge ruled Monday.
Charlottesville Circuit Court Judge Edward Hogshire ruled after an hour-long, private session with both sides that attorneys for Huguely, 24, of Chevy Chase, Md., could review the medical records of Yeardley Love, who was found dead in her apartment near campus on May 3, 2010.
The state medical examiner's office said Love, 22, of Cockeysville, Md., died from blunt force trauma to the head. Huguely, who had dated Love, told police he kicked in Love's bedroom door, shook her and her head hit a wall several times.
Huguely's attorneys contend she died from an irregular heartbeat caused partially from taking prescription Adderall and drinking alcohol.
A General District Court judge sealed Love's medical records in December, allowing attorneys access only to information about Love's prescription for Adderall. On Monday, Hogshire ordered that Huguely's attorneys could have access to her entire record, according to WVIR-TV.
In a memorandum filed last week, Rhonda Quagliana, a member of Huguely's defense team, stated that "in a murder case, there can be no more central controversy than cause of death." She requested that any discussion pertaining to Love's medical history be closed to the public in order to comply with the previous ruling that her records be sealed, according to The Daily Progress.
Attorneys for neither side would comment after court Monday. Huguely's family also refused to comment.
Huguely faces charges of first-degree murder, felony murder, robbery, burglary, statutory burglary and grand larceny. Both were fourth-year students at U.Va.
Hogshire also ruled that jurors would have to fill out questionnaires regarding their media exposure to the case and that cameras would not be allowed in the courtroom for the February trial. The questions jurors will be asked will be determined at a hearing Nov. 18.
Darryl Brown, a U.Va. law professor, said that it is "fairly common" for attorneys to request a special jury selection process in high-profile cases like the Huguely trial.
Huguely's lawyers have expressed concern at the amount of media coverage the trial has received. In the motion, she noted that there have been more than 600 reports on matters pertaining to the trial since Love's death. Some of this information, Quagliana claimed, is "inadmissible, inaccurate and prejudicial."
Huguely's attorneys also asked that the jury be sequestered once they are chosen. Hogshire did not rule on that motion.
"That's something courts are much more reluctant to do," Brown said, adding that Virginia law typically does not support this process. He also noted that Hogshire seems to be giving close consideration to the jury selection issues.
Brown said the more "generous" the judge is with allowing questionnaires or private interviews, the less likely he will be to sequester the jury.
“I don't see no problem with the cameras being the court room,” said Antwan Thomas, a Charlottesville resident. “I think they should.”
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