Leroy Allen Lovelace, accused of multiple rapes, testified yesterday that he found clothing matching the description of that worn by the assailant of some of the victims in a gym bag lying in a creek five days after the last assault took place.
On the fifth day of his trial in Arlington Circuit Court, Lovelace gave the jury a long account of how he came to possess other clothing, written names, telephone numbers, and a bandana with eyehole slits that are key elements of the prosecution's largely circumstantial case against him.
He also offered alibis for three of the four dates and times the assaults occurred.
Lovelace, 39, an electrician and tennis enthusiast, has pleaded not guilty to 15 felonies, including three counts of rape and one of sexual assault in connection with four early morning attacks between Nov. 28, 1986, and last July 18. He was arrested in August and is being held in the Arlington Jail.
Lovelace testified that while out jogging on July 23 he picked up a gym bag lying in a creek. He said he had spotted the bag the day before.
The following day, he said, he checked the bag's contents and found the sports pants, T-shirt and jacket that some of the victims have now identified in court as having been worn by their assailant. He said the bag also contained soggy pieces of paper upon which was written the phone numbers of two of the victims.
He said he wrote the phone numbers in a spiral notebook he uses as a telephone book, with the intention of making calls to locate the owner of the bag. The notebook, seized in a search of Lovelace's house, has been entered into evidence by the prosecution.
Lovelace said he later decided to keep the clothing and had it washed along with his other clothes. The bag also contained a blue bandana, which Lovelace did not wash, but put in the glove compartment of his car -- where it was later found by police -- with the intention of tying it around his dog's neck.
"I never noticed the eyeholes," Lovelace testified.
Under cross examination by Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Barbara L. Walker, Lovelace said he owned a pair of sport pants like those he found in the gym bag, except smaller, but that he does not know where they are. Police said they found only one pair matching the victim's description at Lovelace's home.
Lovelace's wife Donna and three friends also testified yesterday. Donna Lovelace said her husband was at home with her until about 7 a.m. on Nov. 28, 1986. One rape he is charged with committing occurred between 6:15 and 6:50 that morning.
During rebuttal testimony, an Arlington police detective testified it takes about 10 minutes to drive between that victim's home and Lovelace's Arlington residence.
During rebuttal testimony, Charlie Meadows, who was acting supervisor at Lovelace's worksite on June 15, testified that Lovelace arrived to work late that day. On Thursday, another foreman, Tom Sunderly, had testified that, according to the company's official log book, Lovelace had worked eight hours on June 15 and that work usually began at 7 a.m. Sunderly was on jury duty June 15. One assault took place about 7:15 a.m. June 15
Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday, after which the jury will begin deliberations.