UPDATE 2-Prosecutors drop murder charges against U.S. Open tennis official

Dan Whitcomb
Reuters Middle East

(Adds comment from defense lawyer, other details)

LOS ANGELES, Nov 30 (Reuters) - A Los Angeles judge

dismissed murder charges on Friday against a 70-year-old tennis

lineswoman who was accused of beating her husband to death with

a coffee mug and arrested in August as she prepared to officiate

at the U.S. Open.

The dismissal was requested by prosecutors, who publicly

gave little indication why they were dropping the case that they

filed against Lois Goodman earlier this year. A Los Angeles

County District Attorney's spokeswoman said in a terse statement

only that "additional information" had come forward.

"Based upon this information, we announced that we are

unable to proceed with the case at this time. The court granted

our request to dismiss the case without prejudice," spokeswoman

Sandi Gibbons said.

"Because there is an ongoing police and district attorney's

investigation, we will not make any further statements that

might compromise that investigation," she said.

The decision by Superior Court Judge Jessica Silvers to

dismiss the case without prejudice means that charges could be

re-filed against Goodman in the future but Gibbons declined to

say if such a move was likely.

"I'm so happy," Goodman told reporters outside court. "I

feel wonderful. I've always maintained my innocence. It was just

a tragic accident."

The tennis official, who faced a maximum sentence of life in

prison if she had been convicted at trial, said prosecutors had

done the "right thing" in dropping the case.

Goodman is well known in tennis circles and had worked at

the annual U.S. Open Tennis Championships tournament for at

least the past 10 years, mainly as a line judge, according to

the U.S. Tennis Association.

"To put it mildly we had a big win today. The score is

40-love, game over," her attorney, Robert Sheahen, told Reuters

in an interview.

Sheahen said he didn't believe that the case would be

re-filed against his client. He said prosecutors had abandoned

the case because it was "baseless" and could not be proven in


"Every piece of evidence that came in went in our favor: The

polygraph, the DNA, the reconstruction of the scene. They

finally decided they had no case. She's innocent. She didn't

commit this crime; she didn't kill her husband, period," he


According to police, Goodman reported on April 17 that she

had found her 80-year-old husband, Alan Goodman, dead in their

home and surmised that he had suffered a heart attack and fallen

down a flight of stairs.

But the death was ruled a homicide in August and Lois

Goodman was charged with murder. She was arrested in New York

City, where she had traveled to help officiate the U.S. Open.

Police said at the time that a search for evidence in the

home turned up a broken coffee mug that roughly matched

lacerations and contusions on Alan Goodman's head.

Defense lawyers contend that Alan Goodman's death was an

accident, a conclusion they say was also originally reached by

Los Angeles police detectives.

They also say that their client has passed a polygraph or

"lie detector" test and that her DNA was not found on the mug,

supporting their theory that Alan Goodman had been carrying a

cup of coffee when he fell down the stairs.

Prosecutors have declined to comment on the lie-detector

test, which was arranged by defense attorneys, or on the lack of

DNA evidence.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Bill Trott, Cynthia

Johnston, Mohammad Zargham and Lisa Shumaker)

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