Tennis umpire Lois Goodman free after murder charge dropped
Offering little explanation, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office asked a judge on Friday to drop the murder charge against tennis umpire Lois Goodman, putting to rest -- at least for now -- the high-profile case of whether she bludgeoned her 80-year-old husband.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Jessica Silvers agreed to dismiss the case without prejudice. The move leaves Goodman a free woman, unshackled by the ankle-monitoring device she had been forced to wear when she posted bail. The district attorney can choose to refile charges at a later date, though there was no indication that it will.
"I feel wonderful!" Goodman said, standing in the rain outside the Van Nuys courthouse, flanked by her attorneys.
"I want to thank my family and my attorneys, my friends. Their support has been wonderful. And I want to thank the D.A.'s office for doing the right thing. I have always maintained my innocence."
Goodman, a longtime umpire for the United States Tennis Assn., was arrested in New York in August, while she was there officiating qualifying matches at the U.S. Open.
The arrest came more than four months after the death of her 80-year-old husband, Alan.
Lois Goodman maintained that she returned to their Woodland Hills home and found him dead in bed, with a bloody trail leading up the stairs. She told authorities she believed that he had fallen, climbed into bed and died.
Prosecutors, however, said she killed him with a coffee mug, then left the home to play tennis and get a manicure.
There were numerous unanswered questions.
On the night he died, firefighters responding to the home found the scene suspicious and alerted police. The responding officers found evidence that supported Lois Goodman's version of events and, after consulting with the coroner's office, determined that no crime had occurred and sent the body directly to the mortuary.
No homicide detectives or coroner's investigators went to the home.
A few days later, during a perfunctory check at the mortuary, a coroner's investigator found "deep penetrating blunt force trauma" and triggered the homicide investigation that led to Lois Goodman's arrest.
Lois Goodman's defense attorneys said she passed a lie-detector test and her DNA was not found on the coffee mug.
"If under their theory of the case, she would have needed a forklift to take the body up the stairs," defense attorney Robert Sheahen said. "It was ridiculous."
Sheahen said there was also no blood spatter consistent with the kind of attack prosecutors alleged.
"Our medical expert, Michael Baden, from New York, confirmed that this was not a death at the hands of another, meaning it was not a homicide," Sheahen said on Friday. "Dr. Baden believes the more likely cause of death was heart failure given Mr. Goodman's heart enlarged to four times the size of a normal heart."
The district attorney's office declined comment, citing an ongoing investigation.
Lois Goodman will now try to repair her reputation and resume her normal life, her attorneys said.
"This is a wonderful woman whose name was tarnished all over this country, and hopefully today everybody knows that she didn't do anything, and she is absolutely innocent," defense attorney Alison Triessl, said.
Goodman said she hoped to return to her job as a tennis umpire.
-- Andrew Khouri and Andrew Blankstein