D.A. to drop murder charge against tennis umpire
This post has been updated. See the note below for details.
The Los Angeles County district attorney will drop the murder charge filed against former U.S. Open tennis umpire Lois Goodman, who prosecutors had alleged killed her 80-year-old husband, several law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation said.
[Updated, 10 a.m. Nov. 30: A judge dismissed the case without prejudice Friday morning.]
Sources, who did not want to be named because the investigation is ongoing, emphasized that the investigation will continue. But, they said, experts retained by authorities said the evidence could show that Alan Goodman's death was an accident.
It is unclear whether prosecutors will refile charges after additional investigation, or whether the doubts raised by their experts will scuttle the case entirely. Goodman, 70, has pleaded not guilty to attacking her husband, who died April 17 at their Woodland Hills home. She spent nearly two weeks in jail before being released on $500,000 bail.
She said she believed he crawled there after falling down the stairs and onto the coffee cup he was carrying. Prosecutors have insisted that Goodman was a calculating killer who bludgeoned her ailing husband with the cup and then stabbed him with it when it shattered.
They allege that she left him to die and went off to a tennis match and to get a manicure. Her attorney, Robert Sheahen, has described the incident as a "horrible accident." He said she passed a lie-detector test and that an initial test did not find her DNA on the broken pieces of the cup.
The case has been complicated from the start. Police who were originally called to the couple's home accepted Goodman's theory that her husband had fallen down the stairs. Police determined that there was no crime and allowed Goodman to transfer his body to a mortuary without an autopsy.
It wasn't until three days later, on the eve of his cremation, that a coroner's investigator, sent to the mortuary to sign the death certificate, noted the "deep penetrating blunt force trauma" on Alan Goodman's head and ears. Those observations launched the homicide investigation.
ALSO:Tennis umpire's lawyer: Poor LAPD work may let real killer escape
-- Andrew Blankstein and Jack Leonard
Photo: Lois Goodman looks back at her family and supporters as she appears in a Van Nuys courtroom for her arraignment on Aug. 29. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times