Crime & Justice

Tennis umpire charged with murder pleads not guilty; judge reduces bail to $500,000

Lois Goodman pleaded not guilty to murder in an L.A. courtroom Wednesday.
Lois Goodman pleaded not guilty to murder in an L.A. courtroom Wednesday.
Photo via NBC LA
Lois Goodman pleaded not guilty to murder in an L.A. courtroom Wednesday.
Defense attorney Allison Trissel representing tennis umpire Lois Goodman explains to reporters that her client suffers from shoulder pain and several medical problems.
Erika Aguilar/KPCC

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Tennis umpire Lois Goodman pled not guilty Wednesday to murder charges for allegedly bludgeoning her husband to death with a coffee mug. A judge reduced her bail from $1 million to $500,000.

Goodman, 70, was arrested in New York and flown to Los Angeles last week because L.A. police suspected her of killing her husband of nearly 50 years, 80-year-old Alan Goodman.

Police were summoned to their Woodland Hills home on April 17. Goodman told police she had come home to find her husband dead. She said she thought that he had fallen down the stairs. A last minute check before cremation discovered multiple cuts to his body’s head and ears.

The tennis umpire appeared in Van Nuys Superior Court Wednesday in an orange jail jumper. She had worn her dark blue tennis umpire uniform to previous court appearances.

Defense attorney Allison Trissel argued that Goodman’s bail should be set at $100,000, the amount for manslaughter. She argued that Goodman was cooperative with police and drove herself on many occasions to the police stations for further questioning.

Several of Goodman’s friends, neighbors and family members filled the courtroom Wednesday. Trissel said they wrote letters of character on behalf of Goodman in support of a reduced bail amount.

“She’s been in the local area since 1948,” Trissel told the judge. “She would agree to and comply with any terms and conditions this court says, no matter what they are.”

The defense team said Goodman has had several medical needs and concerns since she’s been arrested and detained. For example, Trissel said she has had a hard time hearing the jail guards because of her hearing aids, and she has back problems.

The bail of $1 million is given to anyone who is charged with murder, said deputy district attorney Sharon Ransom. “It’s given to a person who is 30, 60, 80 or 18 [years old],” she told the judge. “It’s given to a person who lives in Woodland Hills or Compton.”

Prosecutors argued there is evidence of premeditated murder, though they would not go into detail. Ransom said Goodman tried to manipulate witnesses in the days after the incident by talking to them and trying to fashion an alibi.

Van Nuys Superior Court Judge Mitchell Black said that, because of Goodman’s ties to the community, he reduced her bail amount. He said she must be on electronic monitoring supervision at home if she posts bail, with privileges to attend medical doctor visits and religious services.

“The obvious things are her age and medical conditions, but I think she’s generally a level-headed person,” said Sid Kulberg, a tennis player and acquaintance of Goodman.

Correction: This story initially stated that Goodman was a tennis referee rather than a tennis umpire.