A professional tennis referee accused of bludgeoning her 80-year-old husband to death with a coffee mug pleaded not guilty to a murder charge in court Wednesday in Van Nuys, Calif.
Lois Goodman, 70, was arrested Aug. 21 at a New York City hotel where she was staying during the U.S. Open tennis tournament. She is suspected in the homicide of her husband, Alan Goodman, who was found dead and bloodied in April in their Woodland Hills home.
Prosecutors on Wednesday said she had stabbed her husband "10 times," using a mug as an "improvised knife."
Attorneys for Goodman successfully argued in court Wednesday that her bail should be reduced, though they had wanted it cut from $1 million to $100,000. A court commissioner ordered the amount reduced to $500,000, citing Goodman's lack of criminal record and support in the community -- evidenced by a collection of character letters submitted to the court.
Wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, Goodman appeared between defense attorneys Alison Triessl and Robert Sheahen. About two dozen of her supporters were at the hearing, where Goodman's daughters appeared and were tearful.
Prosecutors said Goodman was a flight risk.
When Commissioner Mitchell Block reduced bail to $500,000, family and friends in the courtroom audibly gasped.
Block said Goodman could be released once an electronic monitoring system was set up. She will be required to remain at home.
Goodman's next court date was set for Oct. 3. Her attorneys said it would take up to a week to collect bail for her release.
The arraignment had previously been scheduled for Friday, but after a brief court appearance that day, the hearing was postponed to give Goodman's attorneys time to file motions to reduce her bail.
Triessl argued in a motion filed Monday that Goodman was not a threat and that she was not physically capable of the alleged April crime.
The motion cited several infirmities, including knee and shoulder replacements and constant spinal pain controlled by an electronic device implanted in Goodman's spine.
Outside the courthouse Wednesday, Sheahen said that the Los Angeles Police Department had "botched" the investigation from the beginning.
"The only DNA evidence of another killer is trampled right now under the footprint of an LAPD officer who didn't maintain the scene," Sheahen said.
The case began when Goodman called 911 April 17 and told authorities that she found a trail of blood leading to the body of her husband Alan Goodman, according to an affidavit filed by a detective.
Alan Goodman was found in the couple's bed, which was covered in blood. A broken coffee mug, also bloodied, was found amid blood trails that led from stairs to the bedroom in the San Fernando Valley home.
Responding firefighters noticed an "oddly shaped cut" on Alan Goodman's head and deemed the scene "suspicious," according to the affidavit, filed as part of a search warrant request.
But after hearing from Goodman a list of her husband's illnesses and medications — and after officers found no sign of forced entry at the townhouse — a coroner investigator authorized the release of the body to a mortuary.
Three days later, a coroner's investigator visited the crematory to which the body had been released and noted "multiple lacerations" on the side of Goodman's head. The body was returned to the coroner's office after the investigator determined there was sufficient evidence to suggest homicide, according to the affidavit.
Detectives returned to the Goodman home with a search warrant April 21 and found evidence "inconsistent with an accidental death," according to the document, which also referred to printed emails allegedly showing "Lois was communicating with a male individual through the internet."
"The content of the email suggests that Lois was terminating a relationship and that alternate sleeping arrangements should be made in Los Angeles as well as in the desert,” the affidavit states.
During detectives' return visit, Lois Goodman gave information that conflicted with her original statement, describing the scene as "violent and suggest(ing) that her husband’s body looked as if had been ‘positioned,’" the affidavit stated.
Outside the Friday hearing, Deputy District Attorney Lisa Tanner would not comment on the emails mentioned in the affidavit.
Triessl on Wednesday said there was no relationship between Goodman and another man. She has called the murder charge "outrageous" and has criticized the LAPD for its handling of Goodman's arrest.