NOTE SO BLACK AND WHITE: In spite on his jumpsuit, several shades of grey remain about the Huguely case, and not the romantic kind. Photo courtesy Steve Helber/AP

In a story you might’ve missed because, curiously, not all the news outlets picked it up, George Huguely, the UVA lacrosse star who was found guilty of larceny and second-degree murder for beating his on-again, off-again girlfriend and leaving her to die in her apartment almost two years ago.

As you may recall, shortly after handing down the verdict the jury reconvened and issued to the court a proposed sentence of 26 years in jail, 25 years for the murder and one year for the larceny. As far as sentences go, that would’ve been sort of “middle of the road” as such a verdict in Virginia could carry a sentencing anywhere between 5 and 60 years.

That all was back in February, though. Since then, supposedly the judge has been mulling the decision over as well as working on his other case loads. Yesterday however, the judge came to a decision and sentenced George Huguely V to 23 years in prison.

While the sentence is three years shorter than what the jury recommended, it’s far harsher than what the defense was asking for which is a sentence of 14 years. Either way, the vast majority of Huguely’s life is over as he will be in his mid-40’s when he gets out of prison.


So that’s it, right? Have Sam Waterston pat Jerry Orbach on the back and bring up the credits starting with Dick Wolf’s name. Actually, no. Despite this case having officially concluded, something still feels incomplete.

Perhaps it was all the media build up. When the murder — we can call it that now since that’s what he’s been convicted of — occurred, every news agency in the country was all over the story. Sports Illustrated posed the question ‘Did Yeardley Love Have to Die’ and People magazine put the face of the young victim on its cover for every newsstand passerby to see.

And yet, on August 30th, 2012, when this case came to it’s all too inevitable conclusion, how much of it was covered? ESPN, to their credit, ran an article on their website. But SI and Not so much. CNN and MSNBC also had blurbs on the sentencing, but their coverage of the Charlottesville happenings paled in comparison to that of others stories.

What gives? Is the news of a guilty man in handcuffs and a jumpsuit not as exciting as an attractive college girl found beaten and bloodied in her own home? Have we come to the point where our interest level in one story varies on just how gruesome the most current chapter is? Maybe Tom Cruise was right. Maybe we really can’t handle the truth.

Then there’s the other notion that alcohol played such a vital role in the death of Yeardley Love. It was as if we, in order to believe Huguely murdered Love, needed a reason other than just “he’s a sick S.O.B.” Even yesterday, ESPN’s news article called it the “alcohol-fueled beating death” of Yeardley Love. As if the man who was raising the fist played no role in the matter.

There’s plenty of evidence to suggest Huguely was immensely intoxicated on the night of the incident. Huguely was seen pounding back beers as early as that morning when he was on the golf course and I’m sure it didn’t slow down after that. But hundreds of thousands of college students get drunk every year without committing a murder. How can we pretend that all those people are the exception and not the rule?

The fact of the matter is George Huguely V may have been drunk, but that intoxication didn’t alter the man that he was. Whatever brought him to raise a hand on his girlfriend and then continue to do it until her brain swelled and her heart stopped existed in him ever before he opened his first beer that day.

So maybe it’s one of those reasons that leaves this story feeling so incomplete or maybe it’s the fact that it will happen again. Maybe if won’t be as scandalous– with a privileged, upper-class college student beating his pretty, about-to-graduate girlfriend — as this story, but someone, somewhere will die again at the hands of domestic abuse. It’s the way we, as a society, are. We love the drama, but we love our lethargy more. We’re the first to spread the word when something appalling happens but the last to effect the change necessary to stop it.

That’s it. That’s why this tale feels so unfinished. Because it WILL happen again. But, when it does, the next victim may not have the good fortune to be a story the mainstream media deems “worth” picking up.

NOTE: This story was originally published on SportsHead. To read this article and others click here.
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