(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
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Bill Trott, Cynthia
Johnston, Mohammad Zargham and Lisa Shumaker)