A broken marriage
Lovelace argued with wife, witnesses say
Curtis Lovelace’s marriage to his wife Cory was in shambles in the months leading up to her 2006 death, according to friends and former neighbors who testified Friday in his murder trial.
Lovelace stands accused of killing his wife, who was found dead in bed on Valentine’s Day more than a decade ago. An initial autopsy failed to pinpoint a cause of death. Now, prosecutors say, Lovelace smothered his wife. The defense says that the death was a product of heavy drinking and bulimia. A trial last year ended in a hung jury. Proceedings have been moved to Sangamon County due to extensive pretrial publicity.
Amy Herkert, a longtime friend of the Lovelaces, testified that the defendant told her that his marriage had been in trouble for at least three months.
“He would tell me that she would lock him out of the house, that they would fight and he would sleep in the car, it was that kind of thing,” Herkert recalled.
Dave Schlembach, a neighbor, said that the Lovelaces frequently argued. “We heard arguing so many times,” he testified. “I can remember one time specifically being awakened by an argument at their house, and another where I closed my windows because I didn’t want to hear them yell,” he said.
Schlembach’s wife Lisa subsequently verified her husband’s account. “The acoustics in our house were such that I could hear the yelling emanating from my bedroom window,” she said.
Cathy Meckes, who also lived in the neighborhood, testified that she was passing by the Lovelace house when she heard an argument the night before Cory Lovelace was found dead. “It caused me to pause,” she told the jury. “I slowed down.”
With the jury present, defense attorney Jon Loevy dismissed Meckes as “silly.”
“She’s a silly witness in the sense that the state is continually calling silly witnesses, not that she is a silly person,” Loevy said.
Prosecutors on Friday also concentrated on Curtis Lovelace’s mannerisms immediately after the tragedy.
Rodney Hart, a former reporter for the Quincy Herald-Whig, recalled offering his condolences to Curtis Lovelace, then an Adams County assistant state’s attorney, on the day his wife was discovered dead. “I remember coming up to Curtis and saying, ‘Gee, I just heard about Cory and we’re all thing about you,”’ Hart said. “He looked at me and said, ‘Yeah, happy Valentine’s Day to me, huh?”’ Hart testified that he found the comment odd and said that he would not act like that if his wife had just died.
Erica Gomez-Steinkamp, Lovelace’s second wife, is expected to testify this week. She did not testify in the first trial. Married to Lovelace for five years, she has said that Lovelace called her “Cory” during a drunken stupor and once confessed to her that he had killed his first wife. She also has alleged that Lovelace tried to poison her.
Cass County Circuit Court Judge Robert Hardwick, Jr., who is presiding, has disallowed testimony about the alleged poisoning, which was not borne out by testing. Her other allegations, however, are expected to come out on the stand.
Contact Alex Camp at firstname.lastname@example.org.