WARSAW — After the jury selection concluded, a jury trial began with opening statements and state witnesses. The trial, held today, Jan. 17, in Superior Court I, concerns charges of child molesting against Jonathen Raven Lovelace, 23.
Deputy Prosecutor Katy Hampton began her opening statements by describing the close relationship between Lovelace and the victim. “She trusted him, she adored him. But on Oct. 27, 2016 this playful relationship took a dangerous turn.”
Lovelace’s attorney Matthew Buehler’s opening statements brought up the child’s age, five years old, and the accountability associated with children. “What we have here today is a case of misunderstanding, misinterpretation.” Buehler hinted that the lack of physical evidence presented would be instrumental in the case.
Hampton began the trial by calling her first witness to the stand, the victim’s mother. The mother explained that Lovelace had a close relationship with the family and it wasn’t uncommon for him to eat dinner or hang out at the family’s house in Warsaw. The mother said Lovelace and the child would often play together and had ‘a really good relationship.’
The mother went on to explain the circumstances of the case. How on Oct. 27, Lovelace had eaten dinner with her family and played with the daughter. The mother said that she found Lovelace and the daughter under the bed, which was described as a fort-like play area for the girl. The mother instructed the two to get out from under the bed, which they did after the girl’s father asked them again.
According to the mother, that night everything seemed normal and nothing was said by the daughter. That Sunday, Oct. 30, the mother was putting down the daughter for bed. “She looked at me and told me she had a secret to tell me.”
The mother listened as her daughter explained that Lovelace made the daughter touch his private parts. The next morning the mother talked with her daughter more about the details. She then contacted the Warsaw Police Department and a case was started.
The next witness called to the stand was the victim’s father. He confirmed that it wasn’t unusual for Lovelace to stop by the home. He also stated that under her bed was a common play area and that he had even played with the daughter under there a few times.
The last witness of the day was WPD Detective Brad Kellar. Kellar was the detective on-duty when the case was brought into the department. Kellar explained how Child Protective Services were notified of the incident and performed an interview with the victim the same day the incident was reported. He stated that he did not interview the child himself.
Kellar and another detective later went to the home to gather evidence for the case. The obtained photos of the residence and dimensions of the bedroom. The officers also obtained material from the carpet under the bed that looked “suspicious” through a UV light. The material was sent for testing and was negative for DNA.
During the state’s witnesses, Buehler had very few cross-examination questions. The state will continue with witnesses tomorrow morning, Wednesday, Jan. 18. After the state finishes, the defense will have their turn at the stand followed by closing statements and deliberation.