Top tennis umpire held over US murder

A veteran top-level tennis umpire has been arrested in the US accused of beating her elderly husband to death with a coffee mug.

Lois Goodman, 70, has worked in the game for decades, mixing with some of the biggest stars in tennis, such as John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, Roger Federer and the Williams Sisters.

She was in New York for next week’s US Open where she was to serve as a line judge when police carried out the arrest on a warrant from her home town of Los Angeles.

Prosecutors said she tried to make the death, in April, look like an accident claiming her husband Alan had fallen down stairs.

Goodman appeared 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 court in handcuffs, wearing her official US Open clothes, a dark blue Ralph Lauren sweat suit. She showed no emotion and spoke only to give brief answers to a judge’s questions.

Goodman has been a line judge at the US Open for many years and was about to begin working in the tournament’s qualifying matches when arrested.

She told police her husband’s appeared to have been an accident and she had been out all day refereeing a tennis match, said Lt. David Storaker of the Los Angeles Police Department.

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,” he said.

“It was a suspicious death from the beginning,” he added.

Los Angeles County coroner’s office said investigators noticed that Mr Goodman had multiple sharp force injuries on and around his head that were inconsistent with his wife’s explanation.

Police found similar inconsistencies, including an amount of blood that did not suggest a fall and a broken coffee mug, Storaker said.

Working with coroner’s investigators, police ruled the death a homicide and a warrant for Goodman’s arrest was issued on August 14.

Detective Storaker declined to discuss a possible motive.

“We don’t want to taint anything by releasing that,” he said. “We know they were together at several locations during that day and would like to talk to people who saw them.”

One tennis official said she thinks Goodman must be 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 US Tennis Association, said.

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