University of North Carolina lacrosse player Mike Burns had a sexual relationship with Yeardley Love. Burns, shown here giving testimony, discovered Huguely choking Love on his bed during an altercation that occurred at a party at Huguely’s house on February 27, 2010. (Image courtesy of Art Lien/courtartist.com.)
The seventeen witnesses who testified on day four covered pretty much every aspect of the case. There were police officers who told us about arriving on the scene of a 911 call for alcohol poisoning, and EMTs who described the blood that can spray from an intubated throat. A UVA physician talked about Yeardley Love’s heart, and two electronics specialists described their efforts to recover lost emails. And of course there were lacrosse players, male and female, who told us about Huguely and Love’s poisonous relationship, their other lovers, and the alcohol that washed it all down.
The first half of the day was taken up with a lot of medical discussion. The rumored Adderall defense, i.e. that use of the ADD drug caused her death, not the altercation with Huguely, was tackled head-on by former UVA team physician, Dr. Danny Mistry. In 2006, due precisely to fears about Adderall use, UVA began administering EKG tests to monitor athlete’s cardiac health. There was never anything wrong with Love, Mistry said, she was in great shape, and since recent studies have shown that Adderall poses no special risk to athletes, the school has since stopped the EKGs. At the end of his testimony, Mistry added an aside: A few days before she died, Love stopped by his office to thank him for taking care of her for four years. It was the last time he saw her.
When Love’s roommate, Caity Whitely, and her friend, Philippe Oudshoorn, discovered Yeardley Love’s inert body at around 2am Monday, May 3, they called 911 and reported that she may have had too much to drink. But by the time Detective Sergeant Shawn Bayles arrived at the 14th St. apartment, the picture had starting to change. There was a large hole in the bedroom door. Love was unresponsive and the EMTs were performing CPR. Bayles, seeing her bruised right eye, swollen and abraded face, and what looked like blood on the floor, started taking pictures. He told the rescue personnel that, “they were now in an active crime scene.”
During their investigation, the police expended a lot of effort, even enlisting the FBI, in order to retrieve a lost email exchange between Huguely and Love right before she died.
“A week ago you said you would get back together with me if I stopped drinking so much,” Huguely wrote. “But then you went and fucked Burns.”
Mike Burns was a UNC Lacrosse player who “hooked up” with Love several times in the summer of 2009, and again the night of February 27. I put hooked up in quotes, not because it’s inaccurate, but because defense attorney Lawrence used it repeatedly in a bizarre attempt to seem with it. He defined the term as not necessarily referring to sex, and while technically true, I can’t imagine Mr. Lawrence is really that naïve.
In his testimony Thursday, Burns told the jury that at a party at Huguely’s apartment on the night of February 27, he heard a woman yelling for help from Huguely’s room. Burns found Huguely on the bed with his arm around Love’s neck. Huguely let her go, and Love ran out of the room visibly upset. Huguely told a teammate that he was trying to keep her from leaving so they could talk. Love told Burns that, “Everything was OK. George was just being crazy.”
There was a lot of craziness in and around the lacrosse team’s world that spring. We heard testimony from Stephanie Aladj, a sorority sister and friend of Love’s, who was occasionally “hooking up” with Huguely up until the week Love died. There was a story about Huguely and a teammate hanging out with two high school girls (innocently it turns out) when Love burst in and hit Huguely with her purse. “Are these your new girlfriends?” she said. “Are these the girls you’ve been texting?”
Teammates and friends said that Huguely’s drinking was getting heavier and more intense. It was affecting his fitness and behavior. He was getting wasted four times a week and was “out of control.” On the day Love died, Huguely started drinking at 9am and kept on until close to midnight. Then he walked across the street to her apartment.
If all of this sounds like typical college drama, that’s because it is. It’s not pretty, but this is college life these days, and not a particularly bad example of it either. After all, in their spare time these college kids were winning games and preparing to graduate. Only now they’re telling their stories to 12 jurors and a crowd of police, lawyers and reporters. They’re standing in a large, brightly lit room, raising their right hand and swearing to tell the truth. It’s all being recorded for posterity, which would be embarrassing, if it wasn’t so horrible.