UPDATE 1-Prosecutors drop murder charges against U.S. Open tennis official

(Adds quotes, details, background)

LOS ANGELES, Nov 30 (Reuters) - A Los Angeles judge

dismissed murder charges on Friday against a 70-year-old tennis

lineswoman who was accused of beating her husband to death with

a coffee mug, and arrested in August as she prepared to

officiate at the U.S. Open.

The dismissal was granted following a request from

prosecutors who said they were unable to proceed with the case

against Lois Goodman. A Los Angeles County District Attorney's

spokeswoman said in a terse statement only that "additional

information" had come forward.

"Based upon this information, we announced that we are

unable to proceed with the case at this time. The court granted

our request to dismiss the case without prejudice," spokeswoman

Sandi Gibbons said.

"Because there is an ongoing police and district attorney's

investigation, we will not make any further statements that

might compromise that investigation," she said.

The decision by Superior Court Judge Jessica Silvers to

dismiss the case without prejudice means that charges could be

re-filed against Goodman in the future.

"I'm so happy," Goodman told reporters outside court. "I

feel wonderful. I've always maintained my innocence. It was just

a tragic accident."

Goodman, who faced a maximum sentence of life in prison if

she had been convicted at trial, said prosecutors had done the

"right thing" in dropping the case.

Goodman is well known in tennis circles and had worked at

the annual U.S. Open Tennis Championships tournament for at

least the past 10 years, mainly as a line judge, according to

the U.S. Tennis Association.

According to police, Goodman reported on April 17 that she

had found her 80-year-old husband Alan Goodman dead in their

home and concluded that he had suffered a heart attack and

fallen down a flight of stairs.

But the death was ruled a homicide in August and Lois

Goodman was charged with murder. She was arrested in New York

City, where she had traveled to help officiate the U.S. Open.

Police said at the time that a search for evidence in the

home turned up a broken coffee mug that roughly matched

lacerations and contusions on Alan Goodman's head.

Defense lawyers contend that Alan Goodman's death was an

accident, a conclusion they say was originally reached by Los

Angeles police detectives.

They also say that their client has passed a polygraph or

"lie detector" test and that her DNA was not found on the mug,

supporting their theory that Alan Goodman had been carrying a

cup of coffee when he fell down the stairs.

Prosecutors have declined to comment on the lie-detector

test, which was arranged by defense attorneys, or on the lack of

DNA evidence.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Bill Trott, Cynthia

Johnston and Mohammad Zargham)

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