Curtis Lovelace called to the stand in murder trial - Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Curtis Lovelace called to the stand in murder trial

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Lovelace testifying Thursday afternoon. Lovelace testifying Thursday afternoon.
Lovelace testifying Thursday afternoon. Lovelace testifying Thursday afternoon.
Prosecuting attorney David Robinson while questioning Lovelace. Prosecuting attorney David Robinson while questioning Lovelace.
Curtis and Christine Lovelace arrive to court. Curtis and Christine Lovelace arrive to court.

The Curtis Lovelace murder trial continues today with more witnesses called by the defense including Lovelace himself.

Curtis Lovelace was called to the stand by the defense Thursday just after 1:30 p.m. Many people in courtroom appeared surprised that Lovelace was called.

Lovelace's testimony began with him discussing how he and Cory's relationship. That included how they met, when they started dating, when they got engaged and when they married. He then talked about when their four children were born.

Lovelace then talked about leaving law practice for a job at DOT Foods in Mt. Sterling. He said they paid well, but DOT Foods "expected a lot of time so it was hard work." He explained Cory was a stay at home mom and she had a lot to do with four kids.

During his testimony, Lovelace said there wasn't a lot of time for socializing with a young family. But he said he enjoyed those times.

Lovelace said it wasn't a perfect marriage and there were good and bad times. He said Cory did yell but "wouldn't agree she yelled all the time."

Lovelace said Cory was "a good mother."

The testimony continued with Lovelace commenting on he and Cory's use of alcohol. He said "alcohol was part of our life."

Lovelace then said the DOT Foods job was hard on Cory and she wasn't in favor of him working there. He said stress manifested itself in Cory's drinking.

"She drank more," Lovelace testified.

Lovelace said he left DOT Foods in 2004 and called it a family decision. He said he was concerned about Cory and his family.

According to Lovelace, he then started working for former Adams County State's Attorney Jon Barnard in January of 2005. He said he also started a private practice because the state's attorney job was part time.

Lovelace said he tried to talk to Cory about her drinking and called it difficult.

"She wasn't really open to that conversation," Lovelace said.

Lovelace said he was an alcoholic himself but hadn't drank since 2012.

Lovelace also said he knew about Cory's bulimia and tried to talked her about that as well.

"She got defensive about it, so I stopped," Lovelace said. 

During testimony, Lovelace said he talked with Marty Didriksen about it as well. He said he wished he did more about the alcoholism and bulimia. 

"I did love Cory and I know the kids loved her too," Lovelace said.

Lovelace agreed Cory was his "best friend."

Friends of the Lovelace family were emotional during the discussion of Cory as a person and mother.

Lovelace said Cory's drinking accelerated later in her life. He said he felt there were improvements when he left DOT Foods. He also said Cory's father was dying of cancer and knew that affected her greatly.

Lovelace said the weekend before Cory's death, she was too sick to go to Logan's (his son) game. He said she spent most of the time in bed.

The following Monday, Lovelace said Cory was still sick and didn't want to leave the kids for three hour stretches without help. He said because of that, he cancelled a Monday night class he was teaching.

Lovelace said he fell asleep on the couch Monday night. After going upstairs, he said he found Cory in bed watching TV. He said she felt bad.

According to Lovelace, he said he rearranged his day Tuesday so he could be there to help kids and take care of Cory. He said he cancelled class Tuesday morning and got the kids ready for school with Cory and took them to school.

Lovelace said he didn't remember what Cory did, but remembers one kid needing pants and Cory went to get them. He said Cory then sat on the steps as the kids finished getting things together.

"She was awake and up that morning," Lovelace said.

Lovelace said there was no doubt Cory was alive that morning.

"She was alive and in the presence of the kids," Lovelace said.

Lovelace said when he got back, he worked on some things to figure out what he would do the rest of the day. He said he went upstairs to shower and shave, looked into the bedroom and saw Cory on the bed. He said he could tell something "wasn't right".

Lovelace said he felt something was unusual with Cory. As he approached, Lovelace said he saw her hands, her eyes open and she was very pale. 

"There was nothing there," Lovelace testified.

Lovelace said he knew Cory was dead. He said he shook her and yelled at her.

When defense attorney Jon Loevy asked Lovelace if he was prepared for that, he said "no".

"I don't think anyone could," Lovelace said. "I hope I never have to go through that again."

Lovelace said he doesn't know why he called (former Adams County State's Attorney) Jon Barnard. He said he doesn't know why he didn't call 911.

Lovelace said at the time he had no idea what killed Cory.

"We didn't know what could have killed Cory," Lovelace said on the stand.

Loevy then asked Lovelace if he had anything to do with Cory's death and he answered "no." He was then asked "Did you kill your wife?" Lovelace answered "not at all."

Lovelace said the funeral of Cory and her father (shortly after) were both hard. He appeared emotional on the stand at that point.

Lovelace said he wrote the eulogy for Cory's funeral, but couldn't deliver it.

"It was too hard for me," Lovelace said.

Lovelace said he had people who helped him raise the kids, but said "it was a struggle." He said it was a lonely and sad time for him.

"Kids were still there," Lovelace said, "but I didn't have anyone else."

Lovelace then agreed when he met Gomez at the club he was "out of place" and Gomez did give him her phone number. He said he knew he rushed into the marriage with Gomez.

Lovelace said he felt the marriage went south because of Gomez's relationship with his children. He said said he felt he was respectful and peaceful during their divorce.

Lovelace said he didn't see Christine in person until May of 2013, a year and a half after filing for divorce from Gomez. He got emotional talking about (his) boys calling Christine "Mom."

"Some say it takes away from Cory's memory," Lovelace said. "I don't believe so."

Lovelace said no photos of Cory were in the common area at he and Christina's home. He said he didn't feel it was appropriate and said kids still have Cory's photos.

Lovelace said the kids tried to keep Cory's memory alive.

Lovelace said the day of his arrest, he left to go to the bank and to get food. He said he was going to eat lunch at the pie shop his wife Christine ran. 

According to Lovelace, he walked outside and recognized QPD Det. Adam Gibson. He said he was standing by his car. He said he reached out to shake Gibson's hand, but Gibson told him to turn around because he was under arrest. 

Lovelace said he was put into a room at the station and was being investigated. He said investigators told him he didn't have to answer the questions, but told them he would answer their questions. He said he wanted to answer questions.

Lovelace said in his mind, he thought that they would listen and somehow this would not happen. He got emotional on the stand and said he told police multiple times he had nothing to do with Cory's death.

Lovelace broke down on the stand. Loevy asked him how long he's lived with this and he said "it's been two-and-a-half years."

Loevy asked Loevy "are you ready to put this behind you and move on, sir?" Curtis replied "yes."

Loevy was finished with questioning around 3 p.m. The court then went into recess.

Court began again with prosecuting attorney David Robinson handling cross-examination of Lovelace.

Robinson began by telling Lovelace he was a likeable guy. He asked "Do people tell you that?"

"Maybe," Lovelace responded.

Lovelace was then asked about his drinking. He said he made the decision to quit drinking when he realized he was an alcoholic.

"I started going to AA meetings," Lovelace said.

Robinson asked Lovelace why he wasn't dead because he was an alcoholic. Lovelace said "I'm not dead because I'm alive."

Lovelace was then asked about his knowledge of how cases are investigated since he was a prosecutor. He said didn't have much knowledge because he received information from police.

Lovelace said he doesn't recall telling Marty Didriksen, Cory's mother, that "everything has been taken care of."

Lovelace reiterated that Cory "did the best she could do." He said he wanted her to get better.

Robinson said it sounds like Erika (Lovelace's second wife), Marty (Cory's mother), Larson (Lovelace's son) and science is lying. Lovelace said its up to jury to decide if they were.

Curtis testified that he doesn't recall seeing Larson on the stairs but remembers getting him out of bed. Larson testified that he was sitting on the top of the stairs.

Lovelace said he can't answer questions on "cognitive bias."

"It's been a long week," Lovelace said.

Robinson asked how he knew Cory was dead.

"I just knew," Lovelace said, adding he would have helped her if she was alive.

Lovelace said he trusted former Detective Jeff Baird's report.

Robinson asked if Lovelace believes someone came into the house and killed Cory.

"I didn't know what to think," Lovelace said.

Lovelace was asked about the morning of Cory's death. He said saw Cory alive around 8:15 a.m. and found her at 9:05 a.m.

"You're convinced she's dead and you don't even call 911?" Robinson said. Lovelace agreed.

Robinson asked Lovelace about remarks to a former reporter. Lovelace said he didn't recall telling the reporter "Happy Valentine's Day to me, huh."

Lovelace was then asked about Cory being cremated. He said they started making arrangements the day after she died. 

"Weren't you curious how she died?" Robinson asked.

Lovelace responded saying everybody wanted to know. He said her body wasn't cremated until after the Friday service.

According to Lovelace, there was no discussion on a followup autopsy. He said the first time he heard the death was listed as undetermined was the coverage of the coroner's inquest in the Herald-Whig.

Lovelace then answered questions on where memorial funds were distributed. He said the funds were mainly used for the kids.

Lovelace also testified that Erica Gomez told his kids she was an alcoholic and killed herself.

During the testimony, Lovelace said no one gave him an indication that foul play was involved. He said he accepted her death had something to do with her liver as former Adams County Coroner Gary Hamilton told him.

Lovelace then reiterated he had nothing to do with her death.

Loevy followed up with more questions. Lovelace then broke down when he agreed with Loevy's assertion that people have picked apart everything he did and said after Cory died.

Lovelace said it appeared the investigators rejected anything that went against their case.

Robinson then asked Lovelace if he was surprised Cory's mother Marty testified against him. He said he wasn't "because everything surprised" him.

Loevy asked again if Lovelace killed his wife. Lovelace responded with "I did not."

The defense began the day by calling forensic pathologist Dr. William Oliver to the stand. He currently works as an assistant medical examiner in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Oliver said he was previously involved in high-profile cases involving Rodney King, O.J Simpson, Daniel Pearl and some of the 9/11 deaths. He said he does between 10 and 15 cases a years as a consultant for attorneys.

Oliver said he looked at a lot of materials for his opinion, including email from other pathologists and the scene/autopsy photos. He said he had to look at possible scenarios of Cory Lovelace's death. He said he looked at suffocation, liver disease and other possibilities. He said he also looked at complications of alcohol because it can also lead to sudden death.

Oliver said there's nothing on an autopsy to show a death from seizure, but it would show signs of chronic alcoholism. He said death resulting from alcoholism is not uncommon.

During the testimony, Oliver said he believed Cory died from an acute fatty liver. He previously said that's not uncommon.

Oliver testified that he considered traumatic death as a cause, but said there was no evidence of it.

During Oliver's testimony, the jurors were shown microscopic slides of Cory's liver. Oliver said he could document the liver disease. He pointed out what liver cells should look like compared to cells with fat inside.

Several slides were shown including one that Oliver said showed how a liver shouldn't look like "at all."

Oliver then answered questions on smothering. He said in his 30 years, he's never seen a relatively young person be smothered by a pillow. He said "bottom line is people resist." He said that's why smotherings usually happen on babies or older people.

Oliver said he didn't recall any colleagues having a case in which a person was smothered at Cory's age.

Oliver said if there was a smothering, he would expect to see signs of a struggle including abrasions and other marks on the victim and assailant.

An example was shown in court of a woman dying of cancer who was smothered with a pillow. He said the photo showed cuts and tears in the lip and bruises along the nose.

Oliver also added that the size difference between Curtis and Cory would not have made a difference, because Cory could have fought back.

Oliver's testimony continued after a short break with talk of "blanching". This is when someone turns pale because of the blooding moving away.

During his testimony, Oliver said that former detective Jeff Baird's report of blanching at the scene would have been consistent with Cory dying at 8 a.m.

During cross-examination by the prosecution, Oliver said he did not see blanching in the scene photos. He said it was in the police report.

Oliver also reiterated that petechiae, which is spots on the skin as a result of bleeding, shows up in around 60 percent of suffocation cases. Other experts said it was not unusual for it to be missing.

Oliver added that "40 percent isn't unusual."

Oliver said he looked at testimony from the previous trial when coming to his opinion. Special Prosecutor then pressed Oliver on why he didn't include what Larson Lovelace said in his opinion report.

Parkinson also asked about Cory's eyes being open. Oliver said it's a post-mortem event. He couldn't say if her eyes were open when she died.

Oliver went on to say something could have been under Cory's hands, but said "Is it a pillow? We don't know!" He said all speculation of a pillow smothering wouldn't matter if her hands were moved.

Defense attorney Jon Loevy asked then if Oliver knew Paramedic Bill Ballard testified he moved Cory's hands. Oliver said he isn't aware of that.

Oliver said the look on Cory's face doesn't support smothering. He said the muscles relax after death.

Two of Lovelace's sons, Lincoln and Logan, also took the stand Thursday. During Lincoln's testimony, he said his father went to school to tell him about his mother passing. Lincoln said "My dad was in tears."

Defense attorney Tara Thompson said closing arguments were scheduled to begin Friday morning.

Click here for complete coverage of the trial. 

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