By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A prominent professional tennis referee who was preparing to officiate at the U.S. Open in New York was arrested on Tuesday on a felony murder warrant accusing her of bludgeoning her elderly husband to death with a coffee mug.
Lois Ann Goodman, 70, was taken into custody on a warrant filed a week ago by the Los Angeles County district attorney's office charging her with the April 17 slaying of her husband, Alan Goodman, who was 80 years old, prosecutors said.
The district attorney's office said Goodman would remain in custody in New York while awaiting extradition to Los Angeles, where she faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted. Prosecutors said they would ask for bail to be set at $1 million.
She is accused of killing her husband by beating him to death with a coffee cup at the couple's home in the Woodland Hills section of Los Angeles.
According to Los Angeles police Lieutenant Dave Storaker, Goodman had called authorities to report that she found her husband dead in their home, with no sign of forced entry, and surmised he had fallen down some stairs after suffering a heart attack.
But details of her account immediately aroused suspicions, and police subsequently conducted several searches of the home for evidence, which included a broken coffee cup that roughly matched the multiple contusions on the victim's head.
Storaker said the coroner ruled the death a homicide on August 2. The case was presented to the district attorney and charges were filed. Since Goodman had left town by then for the U.S. Open, Los Angeles police coordinated with homicide detectives in New York City to help make the arrest.
Storaker declined to discuss a suspected motive but said investigators were looking into "whether there were problems in their marriage."
Goodman is well known in tennis circles and was preparing to serve as a referee at the U.S. Open Tennis Championships tournament, a district attorney's office spokeswoman, Jane Robison, said. In tennis, on-court referees are known as officials, serving either as the chair umpires or line judges.
Goodman served mainly as a line judge, and had worked at the annual U.S. Open for at least the past 10 years, said Tim Curry, a spokesman for the U.S. Tennis Association, which owns the tournament.
Like all on-court officials, she worked as an independent contractor of the association, he said, adding she was arrested at her hotel before Tuesday's start of qualifying rounds. He said tournament officials were not aware she had been under suspicion in a murder investigation.
The main draw of the tournament, played at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, New York, opens on Monday with the men's and women's first-round matches.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Beech; Editing by Peter Cooney)