(Reuters) - A former University of Virginia lacrosse player faces up to 26 years in prison at his sentencing on Thursday for the 2010 murder of his ex-girlfriend, who was beaten to death shortly before she was due to graduate.
A jury in February found George Huguely V, 24, guilty of second-degree murder and grand larceny in the death of 22-year-old Yeardley Love, who prosecutors said died of blunt force trauma after her head was slammed against a wall.
Huguely, who is from Chevy Chase, Maryland, is due to be sentenced in Circuit Court in Charlottesville, a college town 117 miles southwest of Washington, D.C. The jury has recommended that he serve 26 years.
Huguely was arrested after Love's body was found on May 3, 2010, face down on a bloody pillow in her apartment near the university, where both were seniors and had played on its nationally ranked men's and women's lacrosse teams.
He was charged with first-degree murder as well as grand larceny for stealing a computer from the apartment.
Prosecutors said Huguely entered the apartment while Love was sleeping, kicked in her bedroom door and then slammed her head against the wall.
Huguely's defense team said there was no evidence that he intended to kill Love, of Cockeysville, Md., and suggested instead that she had suffocated on the bloody pillow.
Huguely did not testify during his two-week trial.
He avoided a potential life sentence when jurors found him guilty of the lesser charge of second-degree murder rather than the first-degree murder charge on which he was tried.
(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins)