QUINCY -- Jon Loevy's reason for getting his Exoneration Project involved in Curtis Lovelace's first-degree murder trial is simple.
"The injustice of the situation was the primary appeal," Loevy said. "He didn't commit a crime, and there was no crime committed. ... This is an opportunity to stop a wrongful conviction before there is a conviction."
Loevy will make his first appearance in Lovelace's case during a motion hearing Friday in Adams County Circuit Court. The 9:30 a.m. hearing in front of Judge Bob Hardwick will feature several key arguments as the case moves toward a retrial, scheduled to start July 25. The defense is seeking a reduction in Lovelace's $5 million bond and has asked the court to provide transcripts from the first trial to Lovelace's defense for free. The prosecution opposes the issuing of free transcripts, and special prosecutor Ed Parkinson said after Lovelace's last court appearance in March that the state would like to see a "substantial bond" in the case.
Lovelace, 47, is accused of suffocating his first wife, Cory D. Lovelace, with a pillow in February 2006. He has been jailed since an Adams County grand jury indicted him on Aug. 27, 2014. He has been in jail for more than 600 days, spending most of that time in the Hancock County Jail in Carthage because of safety concerns if he were lodged in the Adams County Jail. Lovelace is a former Adams County assistant state's attorney.
Lovelace's first trial, which lasted two weeks, ended in early February with Hardwick declaring a mistrial after a hung jury.
Loevy will serve as lead counsel for Lovelace's new defense team. He will be joined by Tara Thompson, a partner at Loevy & Loevy and one of the leaders of the Exoneration Project, and former Adams County Chief Public Defender Ed Downey.
Based in Chicago, the Exoneration Project handles cases with a combination of attorneys, University of Chicago law students, interns and volunteers. Since its inception in 2007, the Exoneration Project has helped free 14 people who had been in prison.
"It's fair to say that we are one of the more successful innocence projects," Loevy said. "We've exonerated more than a dozen people. We are proud of our record, and we do good work."
Loevy hopes Hardwick reduces Lovelace's bond. In a motion filed in March, Loevy wrote that Lovelace's current bond "is oppressive, and it is unnecessary to ensure either the safety of the community or Mr. Lovelace's appearance at trial," and that the current bond "effectively amounts to a no-bail order" because of Lovelace's finances.
Loevy wrote that Lovelace has friends who are willing to "post security (the equity in their homes) sufficient to ensure his release from custody" and that Lovelace should be released on his own recognizance. He wrote that Lovelace would agree to electronic monitoring or home confinement and would surrender his passport.
Loevy wrote that if the bond is reduced to $1 million, Lovelace should be able to gain his release.
"I think now that it is clear that there is no evidence connecting Curtis to any crime, a bond reduction is appropriate," Loevy said.
The defense is also seeking to have transcripts from the first trial provided to them at no charge. Loevy said getting the transcripts is "vital."
"That's how I would prepare (for the second trial)," he said.
Loevy was unsure whether the defense would be ready for the July trial date but said that issue could come up during Friday's hearing.