By Erik Brady, USA TODAY
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (USA TODAY) - George Huguely V was sentenced Thursday to 23 years in prison, effectively reducing the jury's recommended sentence by three years, Thursday for the 2010 murder of Yeardley Love.
They were senior lacrosse players at the University of Virginia when she died in of what a coroner ruled as blunt force trauma. Huguely, 24, was found guilty of second-degree murder and grand larceny at a three-week trial in February. The jury recommended a sentence of 25 years on the murder charge and one year on a larceny charge for taking her computer.
Charlottesville Circuit Court Judge Edward Hogshire, who sentenced Huguely on Thursday, had the option of accepting the jury's sentence recommendation or reducing it, but not of adding to it. Hogshire said the one-year sentence on the larceny charge will be served concurrently.
Huguely, who didn't take the stand at trial, spoke briefly before the sentence was pronounced. "I hope and pray you find peace," he told the Love family. He also thanked his family and friends for their support.
Yeardley Love's mother, Sharon Love, and her sister, Lexi Love, issued a statement after the hearing.
"We find no joy in others' sorrow," the statement said. "We are relieved to put this chapter behind us."
Virginia abolished parole in the mid-1990s. Prisoners can reduce their sentences by no more than 15%, depending on behavior and participation in educational and vocational programs offered by the Virginia Department of Corrections. Huguely will get credit for time served since his arrest more than two years ago.
Love, 22 at her death, was found facedown in a bloody pillow by her roommate early on May 3, 2010. Huguely told police in a taped interview that he shook her and wrestled with her after breaking into her bedroom that night after a long day of drinking. He said he left her bleeding in bed but that he did not believe he had done anything that could have killed her.
The defense had argued that Huguely V should serve a 14-year sentence, 12 years fewer than the jury recommended.
In papers filed in Charlottesville Circuit Court, defense attorneys said that sentencing guidelines for second-degree murder and grand larceny suggest a term of 14 years, one month to 23 years, seven months.
"Beyond the obviously tragic outcome," the filing said, "there are no facts in this case sufficiently aggravating to warrant a sentence above the low end of the guidelines."
Sharon Love has filed two lawsuits seeking nearly $60 million. One is aimed at Huguely. The other claims the university and athletics department officials and coaches ignored Huguely's drinking and violent behavior.
Huguely was arrested in Lexington, Va., in 2008 after a drunken confrontation with a police officer.