By Brandon Shulleeta
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va (Reuters) - A former University of Virginia lacrosse player accused of killing his ex-girlfriend told police that he wrestled with Yeardley Love the night she died but insisted he never hit her, according to an interrogation video shown to jurors on Friday.
George Huguely V, 24, is standing trial in Charlottesville, Virginia, on charges of first-degree murder and other allegations stemming from the 2010 death of 22-year-old Love, a fellow senior who also played lacrosse at the school.
The trial has drawn national fascination, bringing dozens of reporters and news crews to the usually quiet college town in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The videotaped police interview aired in court on Friday showed Huguely refusing to believe that Love, with whom he had a tumultuous on-again, off-again relationship, had been found dead.
"Tell me she's not dead. Please," he said. "There's no way. There's no way. There's no way...I didn't murder her."
"I'm telling you, she's not dead."
During the interview, Huguely, of Chevy Chase, Maryland, told police that he had walked into Love's unlocked apartment at about midnight in May 2010 and kicked in her bedroom door "to talk to her."
He said he hoped to address issues surrounding her supposed sexual encounter with another man and an incident in which Huguely said Love had punched him in the face and hit him with her purse.
But Love didn't want to talk, Huguely said, telling him: "Get away."
"I was a little persistent because of the situation," he said, adding that he told her, "What you did was bullshit."
Huguely said Love quickly became defensive and the pair wrestled. When the conversation wasn't progressing as he had hoped, Huguely said he tossed a bloodied Love on her bed and left with her laptop. He estimated he was in her apartment eight to 10 minutes.
HUGUELY SAYS NEVER STRUCK HER
Arrested the following morning, Huguely told police that Love had bloodied herself by banging her head against her bedroom wall.
"I never struck her," Huguely said in the video. "I may have shook her a little bit. ... I wasn't hitting her against the wall."
Love, of Cockeysville, Maryland, died from blunt force trauma to the head, according to a medical examiner. She was found face down on her pillow with her arms at her side, according to a roommate who found her motionless.
A detective in the case told jurors on Thursday that Love's neck and chin were bloody, and her face was black and blue and swollen around her eye. Police said they found a large hole in her bedroom door.
In addition to first-degree murder, Huguely faces charges of robbery, burglary, breaking and entering, grand larceny and murder in the commission of a robbery.
Huguely initially denied to police that he took anything from Love's apartment. But when asked specifically about whether he took her laptop, he acknowledged doing so.
"Ahhh, yeah. I did, actually," he said, directing police to a nearby dumpster where he had tossed the laptop because he was "pissed."
After the interrogation video was shown to jurors, Huguely bowed his head in the courtroom, covering his eyes with his hand.
Charlottesville Police Detective Lisa Reeves testified on Friday that Huguely's knuckles were bruised when she showed up to his apartment to question him, injuries that Huguely attributed to lacrosse.
Huguely has pleaded not guilty to the charges. His attorneys argue that when he last saw Love she had only a bloody nose and that she likely died of "positional asphyxia," not a brain injury.
The trial is expected to last about two weeks. Testimony is scheduled to resume on Monday.
(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Cynthia Johnston)