As the prosecution in the George Huguely trial rested its case on Wednesday, the defense got to call its first witnesses, including a Chicago-based neuropathologist from Chicago named Jan Leestma who testified that Yeardley Love probably died from being smothered by her pillow after she was she was thrown facedown into it. Huguely is charged with first-degree murder and five other crimes in connection with the death of his University of Virginia on-and-off girlfriend Yeardley Love, also a lacrosse player at U.Va.
The defense testimony can after days of the prosecution calling witnesses who testified that Huguely had been drinking heavily that day, and that his fellow lacrosse teammates had been with him all day as he missed golf shots in the morning and later urinated outside of a restaurant. His lacrosse player roommates also testified that they had discussed confronting Huguely about his drinking as soon as the next day, planning a sort of intervention for the University of Virginia senior lacrosse player.
Meanwhile, the medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Love testified that her blood alcohol level of .14 did not contribute to her death, nor did the trace amount of amphetamines found in her system, which was consistent with a prescription for the stimulant Adderall, according to assistant chief medical examiner William T. Gormley.
Richmond-based toxicologist Alphonse Poklis testified for the defense that her blood alcohol level could have been as high as .18 at the time of the fight, falling to .14 by the time the autopsy was performed.
Gormley testified that the injuries were consistent with blunt force trauma to the head, but defense attorneys argued that the trauma was not necessarily caused by Huguely shaking Love, as the prosecution has argued. They instead suggested a car accident may have caused the trauma, and that CPR efforts to revive her may have contributed to the brain hemorrhages sustained by Love before her death. Christine E. Fuller, who dissected Love's brain, told jurors that she did not believe that could have been the case.
Shortly after Love's death, Huguely admitted to police investigators that he had indeed shaken Love, but not hard enough to kill her. Defense attorney Francis McQ. Lawrence called the events terrible, terrible, terrible coincidences, for which his client was not responsible.