The first day of testimony in Curtis Lovelace’s first-degree murder trial was filled with information. Several first responders and others who were either at 1869 Kentucky on the morning of Cory Lovelace’s death or saw Curtis Lovelace on the day of the death testified.
For those who have followed the case from the start, a lot of the testimony, especially the timeline of events, was old news. Lovelace attorney Jeff Page, during his opening statement, and former Quincy police detective Jeff Baird, by his testimony, gave a timeline of Curtis Lovelace’s movements on the morning of Feb. 14, 2006. Thanks to a successful Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Herald-Whig in 2014, media was able to report many details on what happened that day via testimony Baird gave at a coroner’s inquest in March 2006.
One of the major points of contention is when Cory Lovelace died. The state said she was dead for hours before she was reported dead, while the defense said she died sometime after 8:15 a.m. on the morning of Feb. 14, 2006. Medical terms like rigor mortis and lividity were thrown around for much of the day. Rigor mortis refers to the stiffening of muscles after a person dies. The longer a person has been dead, the stiffer they become. Lividity deals with the pooling of blood in the body after death.
The defense asked each of those who responded to the scene if they touched Cory Lovelace’s body and if it was warm or cold to the touch. If it was warm to the touch, it showed that she just recently died. If she felt cold, that would lead to the thought that she had been dead for a longer period of time.
There was even some dispute about what Curtis Lovelace told Doug VanderMaiden, the first Quincy police officer on the scene, about how his wife’s body felt. VanderMaiden testified that Lovelace told him that Cory Lovelace’s body “was cold and then he corrected himself” and said it was “sort of warm.”
Bill Ballard, an Adams County paramedic, said Cory Lovelace’s head was “cool” but that her torso was “warm to the touch.”
Cole Miller, a Quincy firefighter, testified that Cory Lovelace’s neck was “cool” and her wrist was “colder.”
Seats available: The courtroom has been as packed as it has been all week on Wednesday. During the first two days, only media, courtroom employees and some supporters of Curtis Lovelace were in the large second-floor courtroom at the Adams County Courthouse. On Wednesday, supporters of both Curtis Lovelace and Cory Lovelace attended. The Quincy Police Department had a large presence. Chief Rob Copley and several members of the department’s detective unit attended.
But the day was not a “sell out” by any means. There were some seats available. It appears that anyone who wants to watch the trial will be able to do so. There was probably room for between 10-20 people. There is room for 42 members of the public inside the courtroom.
A different viewpoint: The first person called to testify Wednesday was Adams County State’s Attorney Jon Barnard. He is usually the one asking the questions and not answering them.
Barnard was on the stand for just five minutes. Curtis Lovelace called him on the morning of Cory Lovelace’s death to ask for advice on what he should do. Barnard wound up calling emergency responders on Lovelace’s behalf.
Barnard said Lovelace had a “mild to moderately elevated emotional tone” when he spoke to him. Barnard said Lovelace was not crying during their conversation and that he could understand everything Lovelace was telling him.
Barnard said he quickly recused himself from the investigation into Cory Lovelace’s death after it was reopened by detective Adam Gibson in December 2013.
Also called to the stand Wednesday was former Herald-Whig reporter Rodney Hart. Hart covered the crime and court scene for more than a decade. He saw Lovelace on the afternoon of Feb. 14, 2006, when Lovelace showed up at his office inside the Adams County State’s Attorney’s Office.
Hart was on the stand for just four minutes, the shortest of any of the eight witnesses on Wednesday. He said that he offered his condolences to Lovelace when he saw him that day.
Lovelace’s response: “Happy Valentine’s Day to me, huh?”
A mother’s anguish: Martha Didriksen, Cory Lovelace’s mother, spent 29 minutes on the stand on Wednesday morning.
She smiled when talking about her daughter throughout her testimony. She remembers Cory Lovelace coming home one time during her freshman year at the University of Iowa and pronouncing that she had found the man she was going to marry — Curtis Lovelace.
The late winter of 2006 was a terrible time for Didriksen. Not only did her daughter die, but her husband, John, died after a four-year battle with cancer just three weeks after Cory Lovelace’s death.
Martha, known as Marty to her friends, said Cory Lovelace spent a lot of time with her father in what turned out to be their final weeks together. Cory Lovelace came over to the Didriksen house, which was a few hundred yards away from the Lovelace residence, every night for months before her death to be with her dad.
“I let them have that time,” Didriksen said. “I knew I was losing him.”
Didriksen told of the strained relationship between Curtis Lovelace and his oldest child, Lyndsay, after Cory Lovelace’s death. Lyndsay Lovelace eventually moved into the Didriksen house during her freshman year of high school. She has been estranged from Curtis Lovelace since then. In the summer of 2014, Didriksen said Curtis Lovelace got into a verbal dispute with his daughter and Didriksen, according to Didriksen. Didriksen said Lovelace lashed out at his daughter verbally and was eventually told to leave the back porch of Didriksen’s house by his daughter.
Didriksen said she hasn’t been allowed to see her three grandsons for more than two years.
Witness rules: Didriksen is the only witness who was allowed to be inside the courtroom during testimony. All other witnesses are banned from being in the courtroom prior to their testimony. As a result, none of the Lovelace children have been in court so far.
Hold on a second: When court reconvened after the morning break, special prosecutor Ed Parkinson said he wanted to call Didriksen, Cory Lovelace’s mother, to the witness stand.
There was just one problem: The jury had yet to return to the courtroom.
With a smile, Judge Bob Hardwick said, “Can we bring the jury in first?”
That brought a laugh from the gallery.
“Well, I’m still going to call her,” Parkinson said with a smile.
Thursday’s plan: The day will start with Baird on the stand for further cross examination by the defense. He was being asked about his interviews of the Lovelace children two days after Cory Lovelace’s death when court stopped on Wednesday.
Also expected to testify are friends and neighbors of the Lovelaces. Gibson could also take the stand for the first time this afternoon.