US Open Ref Lois Goodman Pleads Not Guilty to Murder Charge

Attorneys say it's "physically impossible" for her to have committed the crime.

August 29, 2012, 7:09 AM

Aug. 29, 2012 — -- The U.S. Open line judge accused of bludgeoning her husband to death pled not guilty to the crime today in a Los Angeles courtroom.

Lois Goodman made her first appearance in court this morning dressed in an orange court-issued jumpsuit instead of the official U.S. Open uniform she was arrested in last week in New York City on the eve of the tournament.

Goodman, 70, a veteran line judge, was charged with first-degree murder after police say that she bludgeoned to death her husband of 50 years in their Los Angeles home with a coffee mug and stabbed him with the broken shards.

Lawyers for Goodman, who once elicited an apology from tennis great Andre Agassi after he challenged a call, claim she is too physically frail to have brutalized her husband.

"It is physically impossible for her to have committed this offense. She has had two full knee replacements, she has had a shoulder replacement. She wears two hearing aids, and has rheumatoid arthritis," said Alison Triessl, Goodman's attorney.

Another Goodman attorney, Robert Sheahen, told "Good Morning America" this morning, "I mean, you'd have to have Herculean strength to kill with a coffee cup, wouldn't you?"

Sheahen also maintains that Goodman's job at the U.S. Open line judge does not indicate the strength needed to bludgeon a man to death.

"To work at the U.S. Open you don't have to be able to swing a coffee cup," he said, adding that the delay before investigating the crime scene is an issue.

"If the police want to convict somebody of a homicide, they should investigate a homicide properly. They did not in this case," he said. "They botched the physical scene."

Goodman's defense team cited in court today her age and problems with her hearing aids that make her unable to hear sheriffs' demands in their request that the bail be lowered from $1 million, the standard amount for a murder charge, to $100,000, the amount for a manslaughter charge. They also said she has a spinal cord stimulator that makes it difficult for her to sleep.

The defense also said Goodman would lose her right to a fair trial were she not released because she would not be able to gather interviews and support from neighbors.

Prosecutors cited evidence that the murder was premeditated in arguing that Goodman is both a flight risk and a threat to society and that bail should stay at $1 million.

Outside court, prosecutor Sharon Ransom told the Associated Press that Goodman committed a violent crime and showed no remorse.

"The victim suffered multiple stab wounds to his head and was left there to die.... She left him in the bed dying, went to a tennis event and had her nails done ... We see no remorse," the prosecutor said.

Despite those assertions by prosecutors, the court lowered the bail to $500,000, citing Goodman's lack of a criminal record and strong ties to the community. If she is able to post bail, Goodman will be released to home confinement with electronic monitoring and allowed to leave only for religious services and medical treatments.

Goodman's lawyers said they are "hopeful" their client will be able to return home. Goodman's two daughters told the court they are willing to put up their homes for the collateral on the bail.

Goodman called police April 17 and told officers she arrived home and found her husband, Alan Goodman, 80, dead in their bed. Goodman claims her husband suffered a heart attack then had fallen in their home.

"She surmised that he must have had a heart attack and fallen down the stairs," Lt. David Storaker, the chief of detectives at the LAPD's Topanga station, told last week.

But an autopsy revealed "deep, penetrating blunt force trauma that was consistent with being inflicted with a sharp object." Only then did authorities investigate the alleged murder scene.

Officers concluded that there was no sign of forced entry, and the statements Goodman was making seemed suspicious, so they investigated further, Storaker said. The cause of death was multiple injuries to the head, he said.

"We located that coffee mug in several pieces at the crime scene," Detective Dave Peteque with the LAPD said.

Court documents obtained by ABC News show that the 70-year-old referee sent emails to another man, messages that reportedly mentioned "terminating a relationship."

The documents, including a police detective's affidavit, also allege that the emails that Lois Goodman sent to the man talked about having "alternative sleeping arrangements," according to the Los Angeles Times. Goodman was annoyed that her husband of 50 years was calling 15 times a day, according to the New York Daily News, quoting a source.

Triessl says that the allegations of a relationship outside of her client's marriage are untrue.

The next court hearing for Goodman is scheduled for Oct. 3.

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