October 3, 2012 / 11:15 PM / 7 years ago

Lawyers for tennis lineswoman say husband's death was accident

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Lawyers for a U.S. Open tennis official accused of killing her 80-year-old husband with blows from a coffee mug said on Wednesday they would argue at her trial that his death was an accident, as authorities had initially concluded.

Attorneys for Lois Goodman, 70, asked in a hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court that prosecutors in the case turn over police reports that led to that initial determination.

Speaking to reporters outside the court, attorney Robert Sheahen said he would challenge the prosecution’s theory that Goodman killed her husband by beating him with a porcelain coffee mug and then suggested he fell down a flight of stairs.

“We don’t buy it,” Sheahen said. “We want the LAPD to stick to their original theory. Our position is they were correct in their initial assessment of the scene.”

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.

She is charged with a single count of murder in the April 17 death of her husband, Alan Frederick Goodman, at the couple’s home in the Woodland Hills section of Los Angeles.

She faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.

Wednesday’s hearing had been scheduled to set a preliminary hearing date in the case, but a judge postponed the matter until November 8 after attorneys said they had a large volume of material to review.

The death of Goodman’s husband was ruled a homicide on August 2, and police said that by the time charges were brought against her, she had left for New York to officiate at the U.S. Open.

Police said it was Goodman who reported her husband’s death, telling authorities she found him in their home with no sign of forced entry and surmised he had suffered a heart attack and fallen down a flight of stairs.

A subsequent search of the home turned up the broken coffee mug, which roughly matched contusions on Alan Goodman’s head, authorities say.

Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Todd Eastham

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