Did Curtis Lovelace Murder his Wife?

D

The Innocences’ Project out of Chicago, Illinois doesn’t think so. They endeavor to find a legal team that will defend him in his next trial in May.

The first trial in February of this year ended in a mistrial.

The key testimony seems to hinge on what the Lovelace children said. The daughter 12 at the time, and two of the three sons, 7 and 8 in 2006 when their mother’s death occurred, said they saw their Mom alive before their Dad took them to school The four-year old son at the time said he tried to wake his Mom after his Dad and his brothers and sister left for school, and couldn’t wake her.

Curtis left the house about 8:15 taking the kids to school, returned about 8:40, and went to check his computer for his schedule that day. He was an assistant state’s prosecutor, an instructor at a college, on the the school board, etc.

He realized he had an appointment at 9:30 and decided to take a shower.

Only about 9:00 did he discover his wife was dead in her bed.

He didn’t call paramedics. He called a friend who called paramedics. Is that strange? He was an assistant state’s attorney, a prosecutor. He had more than likely attended a number of autopsies, and his wife’s fixated eyes probably told him CPR or the arrival of the paramedics would do no good.

He did call someone in the state’s attorneys’ office.

The prosecutor’s contention at the trial was that Curtis’ wife Cory had been murdered the night before and rigor mortis had set in. This specter was put forth by renowned forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden, because he said rigor mortis had already set in. He seemingly based this on the fact that her arms were raised to her chest and bent over her chest.

Quincy Police Detective Jeff Baird, according to WGEM. Com, one of the first on the scene, testified at a coroner’s inquest she had just died, and her body felt soft. Any qualified detective knows rigor mortis’s first onset is in the eyelids, the neck and the jaw. Baird reported none of that.

The coroner was present at the scene. It is a very simple procedure to determine inner body temperature which establishes a very close time of death. If he didn’t have a thermometer with him, the coroner could have had the body transported to his office and taken Cory’s inner body temperature, had there been suspicion of foul play. If she had died the night before, the difference in inner body temperature would have told the coroner. Granted the inner body temperature cools slowly in warm surroundings, but a coroner is expert enough to know the difference between a several hour span of night and the next day.

Detective Baird said he found nothing disturbed in the bedroom, and certainly nothing on the bed. Again my expert on murders tells me if you try to suffocate someone with a pillow, you are going to have significant signs of a struggle, certainly not the least of which would have been scratch marks on Curtis, and some kind of severe disturbance to the victim’s body and face which could not be readily eliminated by the time the police arrived.

Dr. Baden based his opinion, not on an examination of the body, but by looking at photographs. Again I deferred to someone I know who prosecuted many murder cases, and he said looking at a picture of a body, and making an assumption about anything can lead to false conclusions.

Curtis himself pointed out to Baird and others present, including the coroner, that one of his wife’s arms was stiff. Let’s examine that.

She registered .049 alcohol in her system at the autopsy, which is a little over half drunk. There was a 24 ounce Styrofoam cup by her bedside with vodka and tonic in it that was half empty. In case you’re not aware of it, alcoholics do drink in the morning, and most any other time they can have access to alcohol.

Dr. Baden contended that after about 30 minutes her urine and blood would have had alcohol in it, which it didn’t.
If Cory died acutely after taking her last drink in the morning, no alcohol would have been in her blood or urine.

The autopsy revealed what is called a fatty liver which indicates alcoholism, and can be a source of sudden death. Why is that? Put simply, the liver is the cleaning agent for the body, removing toxins that if left in the body have an instant fatal effect. And if the liver is not working properly or at all, that is the result. The liver also breaks down alcohol, and again if it is not working properly or at all, the chemically-whole  alcohol goes straight into the blood, and the human body is not built to accommodate that.

Some sources say she was bulimic. Her children on more than more occasion heard her gagging in the bathroom after eating.

There are two immediate dangers, certainly not all, that come to mind for bulimia. One is the electrolyte imbalance that can occur because the body has been deprived of nutrition. This imbalance can lead to an irregular heartbeat, which can lead to sudden death. That doesn’t mean that an automatic heart attack will show up at autopsy, but you’re still dead. The autopsy revealed no heart attack.

The second is a medicine, I won’t name the medicine, a person takes to alleviate nausea caused by throwing up. Too much of that medicine under normal circumstances in her condition could have caused death. A normally taken medicine that turns deadly because of the condition of the body.

Dr. Baden also based his findings of suffocation by pillow on how her lip looked. Cory had been in bed all weekend with flu-like symptoms. She told both Curtis and her daughter that she had fallen out of bed, which is probably when the cut lip occurred.

Now as to the arms on her chest that Dr. Baden says is an unusual way for someone to die, the forensics pathologist for the state of Kentucky says people die in all sorts of positions, and he doesn’t consider where her arms were of any significance.

As to the stiffness in one arm, it could have been an arthritic condition or even a calcium deposit in her arm. Considering alcoholism and bulimia, there might have been other reasons.

But the arms were not sticking up in the air as some stories had it. That’s a physical impossibility for anyone lying in bed on their back and dying. Her arms were folded over her chest which Dr. Baden deemed as defensive to stave off suffocation by a pillow.

Whatever the case, Detective Baird did not consider that rigor mortis had set in, even after Lovelace pointed out the stiff arm to him. There is nothing in the coroner’s inquest, where Baird testified, that he thought rigor mortis had set in from a murder the night before.

Curtis said his wife had not been to a doctor in four years. If you’re an alcoholic and bulimic, I don’t think you want to see a doctor, who would be trying to correct both problems.

If the marriage of Curtis and Cory was no longer ideal, I can understand. Some alcoholics I have seen who drink alcohol to excess have a very belligerent attitude. Bulimia is not conducive to pleasant thoughts and conversation around the supper table either. I can understand a rift between Curtis and Cory. Curtis also admitted he had an alcohol problem.

The next trial in May will probably point out that the daughter, now 22, will say her original statement that she saw her Mom the morning she died has changed to she’s not sure if she did or didn’t. Wonder if she talked to someone in the prosecutor’s office about her sureness of seeing her Mom on the morning she died. Surely the prosecutor would not have tried to influence that in any way. Surely the defense attorneys will determine from the daughter how much time she spent in the prosecutor’s office and whom did she talk to.

I assume that Dr. Baden will renew his testimony. I’ve seen Dr. Baden on TV a number of times, and respect him. However reaching the conclusions he did by looking at photos, seems to be going out on a limb with somebody with a chain saw already cutting on the limb.
I am confident the prosecutor will claim she was murdered the night before, and that rigor mortis had set in, even though Detective Baird, again one of the first on the death scene in 2006, found none, even in the stiff arm on her chest.

The coroner said the death was undermined when the autopsy was performed in 2006. The coroner’s inquest found no reason to file charges against Curtis Lovelace then. A new detective comes on the job and thinks Curtis Lovelace murdered his wife. That detective and the state’s attorney’s office developed the evidence to take it to trial in February for the hung jury. I don’t think they will have much better luck in May when the next trial is scheduled.

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