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Friends: Accused ex-lacrosse player’s mood shifted

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — A former University of Virginia lacrosse player accused of killing his ex-girlfriend lied about visiting friends hours before her battered body was found and had a “blank stare” on his face, a former teammate testified Wednesday just before the prosecution rested.

George Huguely V

Ken Clausen and other teammates of George Huguely testified at his first-degree murder trial in the May 3, 2010, slaying of Yeardley Love. The woman’s lacrosse player had a jealously fueled, on-and-off relationship with Huguely.

Love, 22, was found in the bedroom of her Charlottesville apartment with bruises on her body and a battered right eye and neck. She died of blunt force trauma, an autopsy concluded. Her apartment unit was next door to Huguely’s.

The defense, which had not presented its witnesses, claims Love’s death was accidental, possibly the result of drinking and a prescription drug the suburban Baltimore woman took for attention-deficit disorder. A coroner has said those substances were in her body but not in potentially lethal doses.

Huguely has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge and five other counts.

Wednesday’s testimony was intended to draw jurors to the final hours leading to Love’s death. Most of the witnesses were former lacrosse players, many of whom knew Love.

The day before Love’s body was found, Huguely was sloppy drunk during an end-of-the lacrosse season father-son golf tournament and dinner, his teammates said. Later that night, he and other friends went to Huguely’s apartment for beers and to watch TV.

About 20 minutes before midnight, they decided to go to a nearby store to pick up some more beer while Huguely remained in the apartment, the teammates said. They came back with the beer 15 or 20 minutes later, and Huguely was not in the apartment but soon returned.

Huguely told his friends he had gone to visit two other teammates in his apartment building. One of the teammates, however, had stayed in his own apartment and was not in Huguely’s building.

‘A change in his demeanor’

“We thought that was strange,” said Clausen, who went to retrieve the beers with another teammate, Kevin Carroll. “What he said wasn’t adding up. There was no reason to lie.”

Asked by prosecutor Dave Chapman about Huguely’s demeanor, Clausen said, “He had this blank stare on his face.”

Clausen said he repeatedly asked Huguely what was bothering him. “I got no response,” he said.

Clausen said he didn’t see any injuries on Huguely, who police said had bruised knuckles the morning they interrogated him about Love’s death.

But Clausen said of Huguely’s mood after he returned from the beer run, “There was no doubt in my mind there was a change in his demeanor.”

Carroll, Huguely’s roommate, testified he detected no difference in Huguely’s mood. “I just thought he was really, really drunk,” Carroll testified.

Huguely told Carroll and Clausen he went to visit fellow players Chris Clements and Will Bolton downstairs in Clements’ apartment. Bolton testified, however, that he was not with Clements and was at his own apartment.

All of Huguely’s former teammates said the Chevy Chase native had been drinking heavily during the golf outing at the Wintergreen resort and its clubhouse after the outing and at dinner, when Huguely switched from beer to wine. Some of his teammates had discussed an intervention to stop what they viewed as Huguely’s ever-escalating drinking.

Carroll, who said he had known Love since grade school, said Huguely and Love argued one week before her death. He said he heard “raised voices” and angry words but did not know the nature of the argument.

During earlier testimony this week, Chapman brought to the stand the coroner who examined Love’s body and other forensic medical experts. They testified to her injuries, which included bruising from a blunt force such as punch and a torqueing, which would have caused bleeding at the base of her brain.

In a police interrogation interview hours after Love’s death, Huguely told a detective that he “shook her a little” but did not hit her in the face. He said she hit her own head against the wall and that he didn’t think she was seriously hurt when he left.

Huguely said he had gone to Love’s apartment “just to talk.” When she refused to let him in, he kicked through the door. The door and a gaping hole in it have been in the courtroom for most of the trial, which is in its eighth day.