- Associated Press - Monday, September 22, 2014

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A pathologist who failed to pinpoint why a former Illinois prosecutor’s first wife died in 2006 has had her work discredited in other death investigations, including one involving a 2-year-old boy, according to authorities and records from the cases.

Jessica Bowman’s ruling of the cause of Cory Lovelace’s death as inconclusive left the case open until ex-prosecutor Curtis Lovelace was charged last month with killing her. Authorities say Bowman missed what they now consider glaring evidence that Cory Lovelace - a 38-year-old mother of four - died from foul play on Valentine’s Day 2006 in the family’s home in Quincy.

A coroner’s jury reached the same conclusion, and Cory Lovelace’s body was cremated.

But two other pathologists who recently reviewed the case file at the request of police found that Cory Lovelace had been suffocated and did not die of flu-like symptoms as investigators say Curtis Lovelace initially insisted.

Ed Parkinson, the special prosecutor assigned to the case, told The Associated Press on Monday that the condition of Cory Lovelace’s body at the scene contradicted Curtis Lovelace’s claims that he found the woman dead in bed shortly after returning home from taking the couple’s young children to school.

“I’m not trying to cast dispersions on Dr. Bowman,” Parkinson said. “What we’re saying is that if (the case) would have been taken for another opinion” from an outside pathologist at the outset, it may not have languished.

Bowman, now a pathologist for Keokuk Health Systems in Iowa, did not return telephone messages Monday at her office. Calls to her home went unanswered.

Attorneys for Curtis Lovelace didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment.

The 45-year-old former Adams County assistant state’s attorney and all-Big Ten football lineman at Illinois was indicted last month in the death. He remains jailed on $5 million bond, pending a scheduled Oct. 9 arraignment.

Bowman’s work has been questioned in other cases, so much so that coroners in several Illinois counties halted using her as a court witness. In Sangamon County, officials there have stopped having her do autopsies.

In 2008, investigators from Springfield who were looking into 2-year-old Anakin Credit’s death closed their probe after then-Sangamon County Coroner Susan Boone ruled based on Bowman’s autopsy that the child died of a rare, previously undetected cancer.

But two independent pathologists later ruled the boy died violently, of strangulation or a blow to the abdomen, and doctors in Michigan also said tissue samples showed no evidence of cancer.

Boone resisted local officials’ requests to stop using Bowman. Boone resigned in April 2011 - two months before a Sangamon County grand jury accused Mason Weems, the boyfriend of Anakin Credit’s mother, of killing the boy.

“It’s extremely emotional for us,” Michele Credit, the child’s grandmother, told The (Springfield) State Journal-Register then. “We really did think we had lost him to cancer. We believed the coroner.”

Weems, who claimed the boy died after falling in the bathtub, pleaded guilty in 2011 to a related felony aggravated battery count and is serving a 20-year sentence. Prosecutors dropped the murder charge against Weems.

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