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U.S. Open tennis referee expected in court in husband's death

Lois Goodman Aug 24
A 70-year-old professional-tennis referee accused of killing her husband by beating him with a coffee cup is expected to be arraigned Wednesday in a Van Nuys court.

Lois Goodman flew into Los Angeles International Airport with officers last Thursday after being arrested in New York City, where she was expected to referee at the U.S. Open.

Authorities originally believed that her husband died of natural causes last spring, court records revealed.

But on the eve of his cremation, according to the records, a perfunctory check at the mortuary triggered a series of stunning revelations: The man had been beaten to death, the murder weapon was a coffee cup, and the prime suspect was his widow.

Police who were called to the couple's Woodland Hills home April 17 found a blood trail leading to his body and severe wounds on his head. But officers accepted a theory advanced by his wife that he had fallen down the stairs before crawling into his bed.

"Some of the evidence matched her story," Lt. David Storacker said.

She told officers that she had been at Pierce College for six hours when she returned home and "observed a broken coffee mug on the floor which was covered in blood," according to an affidavit signed by a Los Angeles police detective.

"She discovered her husband lying in bed. He was covered in blood and did not appear to be breathing," Det. Jeffrey Briscoe wrote.

Two paramedics pronounced Alan Goodman dead and told police about an "oddly shaped cut to the right side of the head," Briscoe wrote. "Firefighters advised officers that scene appeared suspicious and left the body undisturbed."

But after learning of the octogenarian's various medical maladies and consulting with the coroner's office, police determined there was no crime and allowed Lois Goodman to transfer his body to a mortuary without an autopsy. It was at Heritage Crematory on April 20 that a coroner's investigator, sent to sign the death certificate, noted the multiple cuts on Alan Goodman's head and ears, according to the affidavit.

The "deep penetrating blunt force trauma ... was consistent with being impacted with a sharp object," Briscoe wrote.

His observations launched a homicide investigation. An autopsy revealed shards of the coffee cup in the wounds. A search warrant executed April 21 turned up blood throughout the home "inconsistent with accidental death," 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.

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-- Richard Winton, Harriet Ryan and Hailey Branson-Potts

Photo: Lois Goodman with her attorney, Allison Triessl, left, at her arraignment on murder charges Aug. 24 in Los Angeles. The hearing was postponed. Credit: Nick Ut / Associated Press

 
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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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