The Huguely-Love tragedy sparks WNST heat

February 13, 2012 | Drew Forrester

A calm Monday morning on the radio got somewhat heated earlier today when I was discussing the George Huguely murder case and “Joe in Glen Burnie” called in to accuse me of “apologizing” for Huguely because I had stated that alcohol – too much of it, consumed by Huguely – played a role in the death of Yeardley Love.

Joe continued his rant by saying, “That boy is guilty and you KNOW it, Drew!”

To which I replied, “No, Joe, I don’t KNOW that, because I wasn’t there, and neither were you.”

At some point in the conversation, I said “If he’s guilty of murder, then I hope the Commonwealth of Virginia prosecutes him to the maximum extent they’re allowed.”

Joe barked back, “You keep saying IF, IF…there’s no IF…he killed that girl.”

I’m not on the jury, and I haven’t seen all the evidence, so I don’t have a final opinion to render on the matter, other than to say it’s a horrible tragedy that could have been avoided had Huguely’s drinking and violent behavior been more closely monitored by people who were aware he was out of control.  I also know this: Huguely isn’t guilty.  Yet.  And the reason I say “yet” is because he’s not guilty until the jury returns a guilty verdict.

So, until he’s found guilty, it’s still “IF he’s guilty.”

Remember those lacrosse players at Duke who raped that girl?  Remember that? What did you think in the days and weeks after that case became public?  You thought those kids were uppity, self-absorbed bastards who put that girl through a night of living hell, right?  I thought that. Turns out they didn’t rape that girl.

I learned a lesson with that Duke case, the same way lots of people around the country learned a lesson when CNN put Richard Jewell’s picture on the TV and claimed he was the man who bombed the Olympic village in Atlanta in 1996.  Not only did Jewell not bomb the village, he actually got people out of the area just moments before the bomb went off, saving lives in the process.  But that didn’t stop the media, and the public, from hanging the “guilty sign” around his neck in the aftermath of the tragedy.

I’m not defending George Huguely.  I’m defending his right to stand trial and let the evidence be entered and heard.  If the state can prove he killed Yeardley Love, I’m guessing the jury will see that for what it is and return a guilty verdict.  It’s a complicated case, made all the more difficult by a love-affair gone bad, a series of sexually-charged text messages and a mixture of alcohol and drugs and prescription medication that contributed to violent, volatile behavior.  I’m not sure what’s going to happen.  Nothing would surprise me at this point, just based on the evidence and the elements of the story that I’ve read over the last five days.

I didn’t write the Constitution.  Someone else did.  And those folks thought Amendment VI was the way to go — you know, the whole “you have the right to a speedy and public trial” stuff that has been the backbone of our judicial system since 1789.

Anyone saying “George Huguely deserves a speedy and public trial” to determine his guilt or innocence isn’t defending him.  They’re merely allowing him to “enjoy” – as the Bill of Rights states – the benefits of Amendment VI.

“Jon in Essex” followed Joe in Glen Burnie this morning and somehow weaved an O.J. Simpson comment into the discussion.  I’m not sure how that factors in — and Jon didn’t really explain himself — but the caller then made reference to “public perception” and remarked how dangerous it is to go against public perception if you’re taking a stance of defense against someone that most people think is guilty.

I couldn’t care less about that, frankly.

If the public perception is that George Huguely is guilty, so be it.  That, however, doesn’t mean I have to be guided by public perception.  I won’t be, in fact.

I’ll say, for sure, that based on what I’ve heard and read so far that George Huguely was a contributor to the death of that young girl. But without the benefit of sitting in the courtroom and having everything at my disposal, I can’t offer much more than that.  And I’d certainly NEVER proclaim someone “GUILTY” without having all of the facts in front of me.

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