Thirty-two years ago, Jackson County prosecutors accused Gary D. Lovelady of using a butcher knife to chop off an elderly woman’s finger so he could steal her rings during a home invasion robbery.
The crime horrified the community and generated shocking news headlines for years as the case went to trial.
On Wednesday, prosecutors again accused Lovelady in a crime involving a butcher knife. This time, prosecutors say, he stabbed a friend in the arm and choked him during an all-out brawl in the street over the victim’s wife.
The victim’s injuries could have been worse, but a homeless man knocked the knife out of Lovelady’s hand, according to court records, allowing the victim to fight back. The 57-year-old victim bit Lovelady and grabbed his genitals to escape the 12:50 a.m. attack outside the victim’s home near 46th Street and Chestnut Avenue.
Jackson County prosecutors charged Lovelady, 47, with first-degree assault and armed criminal action. His bond was set at $50,000.
Lovelady was 17 at the time of the notorious 1982 break-in, robbery and assault in the 5200 block of Rockhill Road that left Katherine P. Davidson, 76, without a finger. He spent most of the next 30 years in prison and was released in November 2012.
“He got out too soon as far as I’m concerned,” Davidson’s son, John Davidson, of California, said Thursday. “That was a very heinous experience for our whole family. What he did was as serious as murder. I don’t think I could ever forgive anyone for something like that.”
In that crime, Lovelady barged into a home occupied by three elderly women through an open garage and demanded rings from Davidson and her 82-year-old landlady. The older woman handed over her rings, but Davidson’s fingers were swollen from chemotherapy treatment.
As the landlady watched in horror, Lovelady hacked off Davidson’s left ring finger and fled with the finger and its three rings. Police never found the severed finger.
Katherine Davidson died the next year from cancer, just weeks before Lovelady’s second trial was to start. His first trial ended in a mistrial before the judge swore in the jury. Though convicted during the second trial, Lovelady won a reprieve when an appeals court overturned the verdict. He pleaded guilty before a third trial.
Lovelady testified that he threw the finger away after the robbery because the swelling prevented him from removing the rings. He told a judge he committed the crime to get money to buy drugs.
Now, Lovelady could face a trial for the Wednesday incident.
In this case, after the victim returned home, Lovelady allegedly reiterated a desire to have a relationship with the victim’s wife. After Lovelady allegedly threatened the wife with a knife, the husband lured Lovelady outside. There, Lovelady allegedly threw the victim onto the ground, stabbed him and cut his hands when the victim tried to disarm Lovelady.
A homeless man came to the vicitm’s aid and knocked the knife away. Lovelady allegedly choked the victim but the victim fought him off. The victim returned to his home. Lovelady followed, allegedly turning his attention to the wife while once again armed with the knife.
“Now I’m going to do you,” court records quote him as saying. She fled into a closet.
Neighbors called police. Officers arrested Lovelady, covered in blood, at the scene.
Lovelady declined to talk to detectives about the stabbing, according to court records.
The victim, who knew Lovelady as a child, had let Lovelady stay with him and his wife since Lovelady’s release from prison, police said. He didn’t have anywhere else to stay, the couple told police, adding that Lovelady regularly smoked PCP.
As a child, Lovelady had suffered severe abuse, according to news coverage of his court proceedings in the 1980s. His mother beat him with dog chains and also reportedly hanged him by a noose from a basement beam for punishment until he vomited on himself. Lovelady’s school principal testified about seeing the noose one day after taking the 9-year-old boy home from school because his shirt reeked of vomit.
Defense attorneys tried to convince jurors that Lovelady suffered from mental disease and that he should go to a mental hospital instead of prison.
Lovelady testified that he didn’t know right from wrong at the time.
“I basically did what I wanted to do when I wanted and where I wanted,” he testified. “I had no guide.”
The testimony didn’t soften the views of the victim’s relatives.
And neither has time.
“I’m just sorry the guy ever got out of prison,” John Davidson said. “I don’t have any empathy for him.”