SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Quincy Police Chief Rob Copley says he knew the Curtis Lovelace murder trial was going to be “a tough case to win” for the prosecution.
“It was not a case with a smoking gun or an eyewitness,” he said.
Instead, the jury had to pore over two weeks of often-conflicting testimony before arriving Friday at its verdict of not guilty.
“That's the way the system works,” he said. “The jury heard the case, and I'm sure they did a good job looking at all of the evidence and made their decision. I think the prosecution team did a good job with it. It just didn't pan out.”
Copley said he feels the QPD's detectives did a good job with the two police investigations associated with the case. The first involved the initial investigation into Cory Lovelace's death on Feb. 14, 2006, led by Detective Jeff Baird, and the second involved a follow-up investigation seven years later, led by Detective Adam Gibson, that resulted in murder charges being filed in August 2014 against Curtis Lovelace, who was accused of smothering his wife with a pillow.
“There were two different investigations looking at it from two different sets of eyes and going in different directions with it,” Copley said.
“I think probably the biggest takeaways are the checks and balances above the detectives. There were some things in the first investigation that, I think, could have been and should have been done differently,” Copley said, though he didn't want to get into details.
Attorneys at times went on the attack against Baird and Gibson. For example, defense attorney Jon Loevy accused Gibson of making “wrong assumptions” during his investigation and going “doctor shopping” to find a pathologist who would agree with Gibson's contention that a crime had been committed.
Neither Baird nor Gibson responded to an invitation to comment Friday.
Gibson and the Quincy Police Department also were criticized by Loevy for withholding documents that could have been useful to the defense during the trial, and Gibson was accused of deleting emails that were later recovered and turned over to attorneys for both sides.
“There was nothing withheld intentionally that I'm aware of,” Copley said. “I was not involved in all of that, but from what I'm aware of, there was nothing intentionally done wrong by the Police Department.”
During Lovelace's first trial last year at the Adams County Courthouse in Quincy, which ended with a hung jury, Copley showed up every day to represent his department. This year it was a different story.
Copley attended only the final day of the two-week trial at the Sangamon County Courthouse in Springfield. Copley said his name appeared on the list of potential witnesses, so he was excluded from attending the trial until the end when attorneys decided he wouldn't be called to testify.
Copley said from a law enforcement perspective, he's glad the Lovelace case is finally over.
“To a great extent, I think everybody is glad to have it behind us,” he said. “A lot of work was put into that case, and the jury has spoken.”