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Family, friends defend tennis umpire accused of killing husband

Umpire

In letters to the court on behalf of tennis umpire Lois Goodman, family members, friends and colleagues discounted allegations that she bludgeoned her 80-year-old husband to death with a coffee cup.

Instead, they described the 70-year-old as a caring, loving woman who didn't have "a violent bone in her body."

Lois Goodman pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a murder charge in connection with the April 17 death of her husband, Alan Goodman, at the couple's Woodland Hills condominium. She wept and looked at her family when Deputy Dist. Atty. Sharon Ransom listed Alan Goodman's medical ailments to suggest the savagery of the crime.

At the hearing, Commissioner Mitchell Block reduced Goodman's bail from $1 million to $500,000, citing her age, lack of criminal record and ties to the community. If she is released from custody, Block ordered Goodman to remain on home electronic monitoring.

Goodman's attorneys had requested that her bail be lowered to $100,000, saying she was not a danger to the community or a flight risk and had medical issues — two bad knees, a replaced left shoulder, a torn rotator cuff, rheumatoid arthritis and back pain — "best accommodated outside a detention facility."

The attorneys' filing included 22 character references, including a letter from a 38-year-old nephew of Lois and Alan Goodman, who called his aunt "one of the sweetest, generous, and kindest persons that I know."
"When my Uncle passed we were all sad, and we all show our grief in different ways," Garrick Moskowitz wrote. "When I found out that she had been accused of the allegations like murdering my Uncle, it's just ridiculous."

Another letter, signed by Alan Goodman's brother, sister-in-law and nephew, described Lois Goodman as someone who always cared for her husband.

"Lois was always solicitous of Alan's needs as his medical condition deteriorated," Jay, Evelyn and Stuart Goodman wrote. "A few years ago, Alan was in an auto accident; Lois was in Ojai, umpiring a tennis tournament .... She immediately wanted to make arrangements to come home and take care of him."

The filing also included a multitude of references from the tennis world, who described Goodman as gentle, understanding, conscientious and hard-working.

Audrey Konow, a physician and tennis umpire for the last three years, said Goodman was a mentor who did "everything in her power to make each of her proteges a great umpire."

"What is also unique about this woman is no matter how passionate she was about something or how upset she was with someone, she always remained on the same even keel," Konow wrote. "That is, in part, what made her an exceptional umpire. She always told us to forget it, move on, and never take anything personally. That is how she rolled through life."

James F. Flood, past president of the Southern California Tennis Umpires Assn., wrote he had known Goodman and her husband for more than 20 years and said she did "not have a violent bone in her body."

"Her character screams love, caring and generosity!" Flood wrote. "It is my absolute belief that nowhere in her character can one find the capacity for her to do what she is accused of."

Bob Christianson, former president of the San Diego County Tennis Umpires Assn., who been a friend and coworker of Goodman's for about 30 years, summed it up more succinctly when he referred to her in his letter as a "typical Jewish grandmother."

Lois Goodman has told police she came home and found her husband dead in bed. She said she believed he crawled there after falling down the stairs.

Authorities only began to investigate the death as a homicide a few days later when a coroner's investigator at the funeral home noticed a deep wound in Alan Goodman's head. An autopsy revealed shards of pottery in the wound.

A search warrant executed April 21 turned up blood throughout the home "inconsistent with accidental death," Det. Jeffrey Briscoe wrote. Stains on carpets, the refrigerator door, inside a linen closet and on the wall leading to the garage suggested "a mobile victim" who, police theorized, would have called for help.

After Wednesday's court session, Lois Goodman's attorney, Alison Triessl, said the investigation was "botched from start to finish" and that, like her client, detectives don't know what happened.

Triessl said she was happy the bail was reduced but it would still be difficult for Goodman's family to come up with the resources required.

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— Andrew Blankstein, Kate Mather and Richard Winton

Photo: Lois Goodman with her attorney, Alison Triessl, at her arraignment on Thursday. Credit: Nick Ut / Associated Press

 
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