Restaurateur researched 'evil ways' to force miscarriage, D.A. says
First, prominent restaurateur Joshua Woodward begged his girlfriend to voluntarily terminate her pregnancy, saying the birth of the baby would ruin his life, prosecutors said.
When that didn't work, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office said, he urged her to take a so-called abortion pill, followed by repeated demands to end the pregnancy. She refused and he appeared to grudgingly accept the coming addition.
But Woodward, an investor in Los Angeles and Miami restaurants including the old Table 8, then began to research "various drugs and other means to unlawfully cause a miscarriage," prosecutors allege.
Woodward was charged Tuesday with four counts of attempted murder in the death of his former girlfriend's fetus and has pleaded not guilty. He was in court again Thursday before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Shelly Torrealba asking for a reduction of his $4-million bail.
But prosecutors, in a filing opposing Woodward's bid to have his bail reduced, laid out a case arguing that it should be kept where it is. The judge agreed.
In late August 2009, they allege, he searched on the Internet for the phrases "ways men have forced abortions," "drugs that induce miscaraiges [sic]," and "evil ways to terminate a pregnancy."
On Aug. 28, 2009, prosecutors said, Woodward began to research the drug misoprostol, which is used to induce labor as well as in early-term abortions. It can be given vaginally or orally.
Woodward's attorney, Mark Werksman, said Wednesday that police don't have a case against his client and the charges were an attempt to turn "an unfortunate natural miscarriage of a 13-week-old fetus into a ghoulish attempted murder case."
"Nothing has changed in the last three years except the prosecution's determination to blame Joshua Woodward for the miscarriage suffered by his girlfriend," Werksman told The Times. "Joshua had nothing to do with the loss of his girlfriend's baby. And the evidence marshaled against him is so weak and speculative as to be nonexistent."
But prosecutors said they found evidence that in late September or early October 2009 Woodward obtained misoprostol and "secretly placed it into a drink being consumed by Gail [his girlfriend]," resulting in her getting violently ill.
She did not lose the baby then, and a week later Woodward allegedly tried to administer the drug during sexual foreplay, prosecutors allege. Though she suffered from symptoms consistent with misoprostol exposure, again she did not miscarry.
Prosecutors said Woodward conducted Internet research on "the length of time that misoprostol would be detectable in the victim's blood," according to the filing. On Oct. 18, within an hour of his search, he returned to his girlfriend's apartment and administered the drug, they said.
Later that day, his girlfriend did miscarry but told Woodward "that everything was fine."
On Oct. 20, prosecutors said, his Internet search was about the "safest way to knock someone out" and he sought information about the use of chloroform and other sedatives.
Five days later, believing his girlfriend was still pregnant, Woodward went again to her apartment "with the intent to administer misoprostol," the document states. He was arrested by LAPD officers, who said they found Woodward grinding a white substance in his hands and that he then tried to discard a plastic bag containing the powder.
-- Andrew Blankstein