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Attorney’s illness halts trial of ex-U.Va. lacrosse player for a day

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — A former University of Virginia lacrosse player’s murder trial was postponed until Friday because one of his attorneys was ill.

George Huguely, 24, is charged with first-degree murder in the killing of his sometimes girlfriend and fellow lacrosse player, Yeardley Love.

Circuit Judge Edward Hogshire told jurors when they were dismissed midday that attorneys would work to move the trial along. He said earlier that Huguely’s defense was expected to wrap up the majority of its case by Thursday, presumably with closings and jury instructions to begin on Friday to conclude its second week.

The illness of attorney Rhonda Quagliana compresses the final elements of the trial. So far it has included complex medical testimony and likely will involve detailed instructions to the seven men and seven women on the jury, including two alternates.

If jurors find Huguely caused Love’s death in the course of committing a burglary, for example, it would classify as felony murder, which can also lead to a life sentence as a first-degree offense.

A court official said the courthouse is scheduled to be closed Monday for Presidents’ Day and Tuesday, when grand jurors meet. If deliberations continue into Sunday, Hogshire could ask court personnel to return for the trial, court officials said.

Quagliana was leading the defense’s questioning of medical experts on Wednesday, when Huguely’s attorneys began their presentation. The prosecution rested on Wednesday after presenting about 50 witnesses. The defense is expected to present half that number.

Huguely, of Chevy Chase, is accused in the May 2010 slaying of Love. The 22-year-old’s battered body was found in her apartment bedroom after what prosecutors say was one final, violent encounter with Huguely.

The defense has cast the suburban Baltimore woman’s death as accidental, perhaps related to alcohol in her system and a prescription drug for attention deficit disorder.