Lois Goodman

Attorney Alison Triessl, left, and tennis umpire Lois Goodman react with smiles in a courtroom in Van Nuys as the murder charge against Goodman is dropped. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times / December 1, 2012)

From the beginning, the death of professional tennis umpire Lois Goodman's husband was beset by contradictions.

When Alan Goodman, 80, was found dead in April at the couple's Woodland Hills condominium, paramedics noticed a suspicious cut to the side of his head. But Los Angeles police initially agreed with Lois Goodman's account that her ailing husband had fallen down a flight of stairs.

Days later, a coroner's investigator found that the injuries were consistent with being struck by a sharp object. That ultimately led to Goodman's dramatic arrest at a luxury Manhattan hotel as she prepared for the U.S. Open tennis tournament, with authorities claiming she bludgeoned her husband with a coffee mug.

On Friday, prosecutors abruptly dropped a murder charge against her. Officials would say only that prosecutors received "additional information," declining to elaborate.

But law enforcement sources told The Times that medical experts consulted by the Los Angeles County district attorney's office concluded that the death could be the result of an accident, contradicting the coroner's determination that it was a homicide.

The finding added to a long list of problems with the case, the sources said, that included a lack of a clear motive as well as other physical evidence that could help the defense. Moreover, genetic tests found none of Goodman's DNA on the piece of the coffee mug that prosecutors had alleged she used to kill her husband.

After she left the courtroom Friday a free woman, Goodman, 70, insisted she was innocent and said she wanted to get back on the professional tennis tour, where she has been a fixture for decades.

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