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Two portraits emerge of tennis umpire accused of killing husband

By Richard Winton and Andrew Blankstein, Los Angeles Times –

LOS ANGELES—Two decidedly different portraits emerged Wednesday of the U.S. Open tennis umpire accused of killing her 80-year-old husband and then trying to pass it off as an accident.

Prosecutors said Lois Goodman, 70, bludgeoned her husband, then callously left him to die as she went to “tennis and to get her nails done.”

Deputy District Attorney Sharon Ransom accused Lois Goodman of meticulously planning the killing in advance, but did not lay out any evidence to support that claim. She said the umpire used a broken coffee mug like an “improvised knife,” stabbing her husband 10 times.

As prosecutors detailed the alleged crime, Lois Goodman wept and looked at her family, many of whom had filed character references with the court. She pleaded not guilty.

Her supporters portrayed Goodman as a loving woman who cared for her aging husband.

A 38-year-old nephew of Lois and Alan Goodman called his aunt “one of the sweetest, generous, and kindest persons that I know.”

“When I found out that she had been accused of the allegations like murdering my Uncle, it’s just ridiculous,” Garrick Moskowitz wrote.

Another letter, signed by Alan Goodman’s brother, sister-in-law and nephew, described Lois Goodman as someone who always cared for her husband.

“Lois was always solicitous of Alan’s needs as his medical condition deteriorated,” Jay, Evelyn and Stuart Goodman wrote. “A few years ago, Alan was in an auto accident; Lois was in Ojai, umpiring a tennis tournament…. She immediately wanted to make arrangements to come home and take care of him.”

Tennis colleagues also vouched for Goodman.

James F. Flood, past president of the Southern California Tennis Umpires Association, wrote that he had known Goodman and her husband for more than 20 years and she did “not have a violent bone in her body.”

“Her character screams love, caring and generosity!” Flood wrote. “It is my absolute belief that nowhere in her character can one find the capacity for her to do what she is accused of.”

After hearing arguments from both sides, Commissioner Mitchell Block cut Goodman’s bail in half to $500,000 and ordered home electronic monitoring if she is released. He cited her age, ties to the community and lack of a criminal record in reducing the bail.

Outside court, Goodman’s attorney, Alison Triessl, said the woman’s daughters maintain her innocence. She said that given Goodman’s physical state there is no way she could have killed anyone. In court papers, Triessl said her client has two bad knees, a replaced left shoulder, a torn rotator cuff, rheumatoid arthritis and “back pain that requires pain-blocking sent from an implanted device.”

Triessl also accused authorities of botching the investigation “from start to finish” and questioned the integrity of the crime scene.

Officials didn’t initially suspect Alan Goodman was the victim of a homicide. A detective released his body to a mortuary for burial. A search warrant executed four days after his death turned up bloodstains on carpets, the refrigerator door and inside a linen closet that officials said were inconsistent with an accidental death.

Although Triessl said she was pleased that bail was reduced to $500,000, she added that it would still be difficult for Goodman’s family to come up with the resources required.

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