LOS ANGELES – A professional tennis referee from Los Angeles who for years has officiated matches between the game's top players was arrested Tuesday in New York City on a felony warrant charging her with killing her elderly husband in April.
Prosecutors said 70-year-old Lois Ann Goodman, a longtime line judge on the tennis circuit, was taken into custody as she prepared to work at the U.S. Open tournament.
She was charged with murdering her 80-year-old husband, Alan Goodman, in their home in Woodland Hills, Calif. Prosecutors allege she bludgeoned him to death with a coffee mug on April 17.
When the death was reported, Lois Goodman told police it appeared to have been an accident and she had been out all day refereeing a tennis match, according to Lt. David Storaker of the Los Angeles Police Department.
"She arrived home and she said the house was locked up," he said.
When Goodman found her husband unresponsive in bed, "she said she surmised he had fallen down the steps, had a heart attack and managed to get back upstairs to the bed," Storaker said.
"It was a suspicious death from the beginning," he added.
Los Angeles County coroner's office spokesman Ed Winter said Alan Goodman's body was immediately transported to a mortuary.
"We sent investigators to the mortuary, and we noticed that his injuries were inconsistent with a fall," Winter said. "The autopsy revealed he had multiple sharp force injuries about the head."
Storaker said officers later returned to the scene with a search warrant and found evidence inconsistent with Goodman's story. He said the amount of blood in the condo did not suggest a fall. They also found a broken coffee mug.
Winter said the coroner's office worked on the case with Los Angeles police and eventually it was ruled a homicide and presented to the district attorney's office. A warrant for her arrest was issued on Aug. 14.
A tennis official said she thinks Goodman is innocent.
"I've worked with her for years and I don't believe any of this," Annette Buck, director of adult and senior tennis at the U.S. Tennis Association, told the Los Angeles Times.
Buck described Lois Goodman as a good official and said she was arrested as she was getting on a bus to the U.S. Open.
Tournament spokesman Tim Curry said Goodman has been a line judge at the U.S. Open for many years and was scheduled to work at this year's tournament, which begins Monday.
She had also been scheduled to work the tournament's qualifying matches, which started Tuesday.
Curry would give no further comment.
Storaker declined to discuss a possible motive in the case.
"We believe we know what the motive is, but we don't want to taint anything by releasing that," Storaker said. "We know they were together at several locations during that day and would like to talk to people who saw them."
The couple had been married for several decades and had three children.
Goodman appeared late Tuesday in Manhattan Criminal Court, where she agreed to waive an extradition hearing so she could be returned quickly to Los Angeles to face the charges.
She was led into the courthouse in handcuffs, wearing her official U.S. Open clothes, a dark blue Ralph Lauren sweat suit, according to the New York Post. She showed no emotion and spoke only to give her name and to say "yes" when a judge asked if it was her signature on the extradition form.
If convicted, she could be sentenced to life in prison.