Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Prosecutors Drop Murder Charges Against Tennis Ref Lois Goodman

Lois Goodman appears on the 'Today Show' on December 3, 2012. Photo: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images

LA prosecutors were so certain that Lois Goodman murdered her husband they had the NYPD arrest her in New York City, rather than wait for her to return home. Last week, those same prosecutors dropped all charges against Goodman citing undisclosed new evidence that would make it impossible to prove their case.

On Friday, Goodman had her final day in court as the murder charge against her was formally dropped “without prejudice” meaning that she could be charged anew in the future — a circumstance experts see as unlikely, given the abruptness of the DA’s actions. For the police’s part, Chief Charlie Beck released a statement lacking any sense of apology: “This is still considered an open case, and our Topanga-area homicide detectives will continue their investigation.”

Prosecutors would not describe the new evidence that led to the dismissal — although sources told the LA Times that the investigation showed that the April 17 death could have been the result of an accident (as Goodman’s defense claimed) rather than a homicide (as the LA coroner ruled). The lack of motive was also troubling — as was the absence of Goodman’s DNA on the broken coffee mug once thought to be the murder weapon.

Alan Goodman, victim. ID Photo.

The 70-year-old Goodman, who had been out on bail since September, kissed defense attorney Alison Triessl in the courtroom after hearing the news. After court, Goodman elatedly told reporters: “I feel wonderful… I have always maintained my innocence… I just feel I have been treated fairly now and it was just a tragic accident.” Triessl added, “Justice has been served. She did not do this.”

From the time of her arrest back in August, Goodman’s defense team had taken an offensive tact. They set her up with a polygraph expert, who said she passed the lie-detector test with flying colors. Defense investigators enlisted esteemed pathologist Michael Baden to examine the evidence surrounding 80-year-old Alan Goodman’s passing. Baden found evidence of a greatly-enlarged heart which he believed might have been the actual cause of death.

A tennis referee by trade, Goodman can apply to have her refereeing certification renewed by the USTA. Assuming that goes well, she can resume her official’s duties — perhaps at next year’s US Open.

“I definitely want to get back to refereeing,” she said outside the courthouse, “But first I want to call my close friends that supported me and thank them.”

Love Means Nothing to Tennis Official Accused of Murdering Husband

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