On Friday, the jury watched an hour long-tape of Huguely’s interview with the police the night he was arrested. The rest of us could only hear his voice, which on the tape is thick and slurred. “I went to talk to Yeardley,” he tells the detectives, “my ex-girlfriend.”
I wanted to talk to her … about so many different things … how she attacked me … She went to Carolina and hooked up with somebody while we were still trying to talk. She knew how upset I was.
He tells the detectives his problems, about the on again, off again, crazy last few weeks between him and Yeardley. They’d recently broken up, he said, because graduation was coming, and she felt they were moving in different directions.
His story is confused and rambling. He pours his heart out to the people who are about to throw him in jail.
In a perfect world we could chart our lives on a graph, and in the million points where the lines cross and the million where they diverge, we’d find an explanation for why some of us make the right choices and some of us don’t. People are obsessed with this trial partly because they hope to spot the place in George Huguely’s life where money, alcohol, and psychology intersect and spell out Murder. And if they can do that, then maybe they can erase those paths from the map so that future Yeardley Loves won’t have to die.
But it’s not a perfect world, and there may not be a roadmap for every killing.
Partway through the interview, the detectives tell Huguely that Love is dead.
She’s dead, they say. You killed her, George.
She’s dead? No, I did not … She’s dead?
How the fuck is she dead?
On the tape, Huguely begins to sob.
Sitting in the courtroom, he sits unmoving and watches the screen. Yeardley’s mother Sharon stares at Huguely and says to the person next to her, “I want to see him.”
I want to see her. I want to see her.
I don’t believe it. I didn’t. I didn’t. I didn’t.
I didn’t hurt her.
I don’t believe that she’s dead.
He’s hysterical. The detectives tell him to calm down.
She’s not dead! You said she had a black eye and a bump on her head.
Tell me she’s not dead!
Most people rightly focus their compassion on Yeardley Love. More than lacrosse, or privilege, or anything else, she’s what this whole mess should be about. But I can’t stop thinking about George Huguely.
I’m not a violent person, but there’s something in him that I recognize. It’s a kind of anger whose shadow I’ve seen in friends, family, and in myself, although never to the degree I’ve seen these last five days. So perhaps this trial is also about crippled male rage and the sense of shame that goes with it.
As he listens to the interview, George lowers his head and begins to cry for the first time since the beginning of the trial.
On the tape, you can hear the detectives handcuff him. A 22-year old, they tell him. Twenty-two and her life is gone. You realize you’re under arrest?
Oh my god. There’s no way.
It sounds like he’s pounding the table. He’s sobbing.
I didn’t murder her.
Tell me you’re lying to me!
Everyday in court, I imagine it’s me sitting in the defendant’s chair instead of Huguely. If I think back to my twenties, it’s not hard to see where a few different choices or some bad luck could have taken me down a path much closer to his.
How do I say this without sounding like I’m forgiving him, or justifying his actions? I’m not. I’m struggling to understand why I find myself moved by him.
The moment that Yeardley Love died, Huguely ceased to be one of us and became an Other. His actions make him monstrous, and most of us are afraid to acknowledge the man in the monster, or the monster in ourselves. Maybe what I’m trying to say is that the difference between George Huguely and any other man might be smaller than most people think.
She has to be alive, she has to be.
She was awake, standing up with me.
Sir, how is she dead?
He completely breaks down.
You’re not lying to me, are you?
I didn’t kill her.
I did not kill her.
Tell us what happened, the detectives say.
I told you what happened.
The tape ends.
My coverage of the trial of George Huguely continues on Tuesday with the daily blog, @HuguelyTrial on twitter, and a recap of the first week in the print edition.