INTERVIEW: NBC12 Legal Analyst on Love murder case

Posted by Phil Riggan – email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Lawyers for the man accused of killing a University of Virginia lacrosse player appeared in court today.

George Huguely faces a first degree murder for the death of Yeardley Love.

Today, his lawyers asked a judge for access to Love's medical records. The judge said he would have to look at those records first.

NBC12 legal analyst Steven Benjamin joined First at Four to talk about why they want those records and whether a plea deal is in the works.

DIANE: Let's talk about the why for the medical records first. What could possibly be in the medical records that the defense wants?

STEVE BENJAMIN: The defense, Diane, wants to review her medical history, and they want to do that for some very particular reasons. And let's explain why. The prosecution's theory is easy for us to understand. There's an admitted beating of this young woman and then she dies. The Virginia medical examiner says she died as a result of the blunt head trauma that she received because of the beating. You know, that's their case. The defense, well, part of their job is to question this theory and determine if, in fact, the head trauma was the cause of death, and to do that, they have hired their own ex-medical examiner to review the autopsy.

DIANE: So they are trying to say it wasn't murder, which the attorney has said all along, that we're going to prove it wasn't murder, that perhaps it was some pre-existing medical condition?

STEVE BENJAMIN:  That's very good. That's exactly what they are aiming at. They're saying she was taking a prescription and had a high blood alcohol content, and their expert's working theory, theory, is that it's that combination of factors that caused the loss of oxygen to the brain, and that caused her death, not the trauma. So they would acknowledge that the boyfriend caused trauma, beat her, but that was not the cause of death. And what the defense is doing here is, they're establishing that they have a tryable case. They have said all along that, yes, although there was a beating, there was an assault, that the defendant never intended to kill her, that was not his intent. But the prosecution says, yes, you can infer that from the severity of the beating, but the defense is now suggesting that although there was trauma, the trauma is not what caused her death. Hence, they would say this is not first degree murder.

DIANE: Now, while all this is going on, what we're seeing is the proper and appropriate defense investigation into medical history that is relevant to cause of death. And what we're seeing does raising question as to whether or not he's going to get off on this charge because there's talk of a possible plea agreement.

STEVE BENJAMIN: Well, a plea agreement doesn't even he's getting off with the charge. What the parties are required to do and what they're doing now while they're going through all these motions is establishing a common, that which everyone can agree on, that there was culpable criminal behavior, that she did die as a result of this, so the question may ultimately be, is this first degree murder, premeditated intent to kill or a slightly lesser case of murder.

DIANE: All so interesting. Thank so much as always for coming in and putting it into perspective for us.

STEVE BENJAMIN: My pleasure.

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.