In this photo taken in 2008, tennis referee Lois Goodman is shown while officiating a CIF tennis tournament. Goodman, 70, of Woodland Hills, Calif., was
In this photo taken in 2008, tennis referee Lois Goodman is shown while officiating a CIF tennis tournament. Goodman, 70, of Woodland Hills, Calif., was arrested in New York City on a felony warrant charging her with murdering her elderly husband in April. She was charged with murdering her 80-year-old husband, Alan Goodman, in their Woodland Hills home. (AP Photo/Los Angeles Daily News, David Crane)

Citing new evidence that hurt their case, prosecutors dropped a murder charge Friday against a Woodland Hills tennis official accused of killing her husband but said they will continue investigating.

That leaves open the possibility that Lois Goodman, 70, could be charged again. But she and her attorney greeted the dismissal with relief and said they believed the prosecution was over.

"I feel I'm being treated fairly now. It was just a terrible accident," Goodman said outside court.

Defense attorney Alison Triessl said she believed private polygraph tests conducted by a former FBI polygraph examiner were pivotal in proving that Goodman did not kill her husband.

"We're elated," Triessl said. "This has been a living hell for her. Justice has been served. She did not do this."

Goodman was arrested in August in the April death of Alan Goodman, 80.

After her arrest, police and prosecutors said Lois Goodman bludgeoned her husband with a coffee mug, then staged the death as an accident.

They offered as a motive the notes she exchanged with another man, which suggested she was preparing to leave her husband.

Her attorneys said Los Angeles police detectives botched the case and compromised evidence, not fully searching the couple's home until four days after the death.

Lois Goodman had been free since posting bail Sept. 2, having spent more than a week in jail.


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In a statement, a spokeswoman for the District Attorney's Office said a judge dismissed the charge "without prejudice," which means it can be refiled.

"We received additional information regarding the case," spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said. "Based upon this information, we announced that we are unable to proceed with the case at this time."

Prosecutors would not detail that evidence or answer any questions about the case, citing the continuing investigation.

Goodman called 911 to report her husband's death on April 17, telling police she'd found him in their bed. She suggested he must have had a heart attack and fallen down the stairs, then struggled up to their bedroom before dying.

Given the lack of forced entry to the house and Alan Goodman's age, a coroner approved the release of the body to a mortuary.

On April 20, three days after he died, a coroner's investigator went to Heritage Crematory and found his body had lacerations to the head and three cuts to his right ear, "deep penetrating, blunt force trauma" that police later said suggested a homicide.

The body was taken from the crematory to the coroner's office.

Lois Goodman looks towards her attorney, Allison Triessl as her arraignment on murder charges is postponed Friday Aug. 24, 2012 , in Los Angeles. Goodman,
Lois Goodman looks towards her attorney, Allison Triessl as her arraignment on murder charges is postponed Friday Aug. 24, 2012 , in Los Angeles. Goodman, professional tennis referee, has been accused of murdering her 80-year-old husband. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

The next day, April 21, police served a search warrant at the Goodmans' home and found a trail of blood stains that stretched over all three floors of the house, according to the police affidavit.

Police said Lois Goodman's account didn't match the physical evidence. They said an autopsy showed injuries that couldn't have come from a fall.

And if Alan Goodman had really fallen, yet been able to make his way to the couple's third-floor bedroom, he likely would have called for help from one of the phones he passed on the way, police said.

But defense private investigator Scott Ross told The Associated Press that famed pathologist Dr. Michael Baden examined the coroner's evidence in the case and found that Alan Goodman died of a heart attack, not from any injuries.

"His heart was four times the normal size," Ross said.

Two printouts of emails and a handwritten note found in the home suggested Lois Goodman was talking to a man online, an LAPD detective said in a court affidavit.

"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," Detective Jeffrey Briscoe wrote.

The coroner ruled the death a homicide Aug. 2, and prosecutors filed a murder charge Aug. 14.

Police arrested Lois Goodman Aug. 21 at a hotel in New York, where she was acting as a US Open official.

Her lawyers criticized that move, saying she was no flight risk and police easily could have waited until she was back in California. 

The Goodmans, both San Fernando Valley natives, had been married 50 years and had three grown daughters.

After Lois Goodman's arrest, relatives set up a website and Facebook page called Lois Goodman Defense Fund to clear her name.

"Case DISMISSED!!!!" the Facebook page said Friday morning.

Goodman, who has worked matches between some of the greatest tennis players in the world, made her first court appearance in her US Open uniform.

U.S. Tennis Association spokesman Chris Widmaier said Goodman's biannual certification as a referee expires at the end of December and she can apply for renewal. If recertified, she will have the right to apply for an official's position at the 2013 US Open, he said.

"I definitely want to get back to refereeing," Goodman said at the courthouse. "But first I want to call my close friends that supported me and thank them again and again."


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

eric.hartley@dailynews.com

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