CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA. - Months before Yeardley Love was slain, the University of Virginia lacrosse player charged in her death wrapped his arm around her neck in an incident that frightened the young woman, friends of the couple said in court Thursday.

During testimony, jurors learned more about the altercations between 22-year-old Love and ex-boyfriend George Huguely V that prosecutors say were a precursor to Love's killing. Huguely, of Chevy Chase, is on trial in Charlottesville Circuit Court in Love's May 2010 death.

Michael Burns, a friend of Love who occasionally "hooked up" with her, he said, testified that he heard a woman yelling, "Help me, help me" during a gathering at Huguely's apartment in February 2010.

Burns, who played lacrosse for the University of North Carolina and was visiting U.Va. that weekend, said he opened a bedroom door and "saw George with his arm around Yeardley's neck."

Love rushed out of the room, saying "thank you so much," Burns testified. Love was sobbing and holding her chest as if she couldn't breath, said Elizabeth McLean, Love's sorority sister and the girlfriend of Huguely's roommate.

Huguely wanted to talk to Love, but she wanted to leave, Brian Carroll, one of Huguely's lacrosse teammates, testified. Carroll said Huguely told him he "was not letting her leave the room."

Friends also testified about an encounter that happened the week before Love was killed.

Love rushed into Huguely's room and saw two girls -- who were high school students visiting U.Va. and spending time with Huguely while their host was busy -- inside.

Love began arguing with Huguely, according to McLean, who was in another room in the apartment. McLean said she heard Love whack Huguely with her purse and the bag's contents spill to the floor.

Love asked Huguely, "Are these your new girlfriends? Are these the girls you've been texting?" Kate Kamber, the girls' host, testified.

In other testimony, police and paramedics who responded to Love's apartment said they believed they were responding to an alcohol overdose, but a damaged door and Love's bruises revealed a crime scene.

A medical examiner ruled Love died of blunt-force trauma to the head.