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Judge refuses to dismiss Hollywood therapist murder case

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A judge today declined to dismiss the case against a man charged with murder and burglary in the death of a Hollywood marriage and sex therapist who dove from the third-floor balcony of his home in Hollywood Hills a little over two years ago.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge George Lomeli denied a defense motion that argued there was not enough evidence presented at a hearing before another judge last September during from which Gareth Pursehouse, 43, was ordered to stand trial for the February 15, 2020, death of 38-year-old Amie Harwick.

Pursehouse is charged with one count of murder and first-degree residential burglary, as well as the allegation of special circumstance of waiting. He could face life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.

During the hearing last September, Assistant District Attorney Victor Avila told Judge Michael Pastor that the events that culminated in Harwick’s death began with an exchange about a month earlier between the victim and Pursehouse. outside of the XBiz Adult Entertainment Awards ceremony at the JW Marriott in which he allegedly told her that she had ruined his life and called her a “bitch”.

The prosecutor argued that the defendant – whom he described as “obsessed” with Harwick – broke into her home and waited around four hours for her to return in an attempt to “take her by surprise” when he was armed with a syringe. containing a “lethal” dose of nicotine.

“With his strength he throws her over the balcony, the assistant prosecutor told the judge, noting that the 5-foot-4, 120-pound woman likely fought back at Pursehouse, who is 6-foot-3. and 100 pounds heavier than she was.

DNA evidence found under his fingernails and on a patio door in his living room linked Pursehouse to the attack, Avila said.

One of Pursehouse’s attorneys, Jannet Santiso, then noted that the DNA evidence could not be dated, nor could the scratches and bruises later discovered by police on Pursehouse. She also asked if the DNA evidence could have been contaminated.

Another defense attorney, Robin Bernstein-Lev, told the judge that testimony that Pursehouse seemed emotional and distraught when he and Harwick met outside of the Jan. other than that he was trying to talk to her. .

There was “no evidence Mr. Pursehouse ever threatened to harm” Harwick and “no evidence of murderous intent” on Pursehouse’s part, Bernstein-Lev said.

“There is no evidence that she was thrown off a balcony,” Bernstein-Lev said. ‘…They’re asking this court to speculate.’

Police responded to the home at around 1.15am that day in the 2000 block of Mound Street following a 911 call by Harwick’s housemate, who said she heard her scream.

The woman’s roommate testified that he went to the back patio with police and found her “struggling to breathe”.

Harwick – a published author who was briefly engaged to comedian and ‘The Price is Right’ host Drew Carey – was taken to hospital, where she was pronounced dead following what the coroner’s office concluded that it was blunt head injury and trauma. Evidence of manual strangulation was listed under “other significant conditions” by the coroner’s office.

On social media, Carey posted a short video of himself with Harwick after his death was announced and wrote: “I hope you are lucky to have someone in your life who loves as much as she does. .”

Pursehouse was first arrested at his home on the 8100 block of Cabora Drive in Playa del Rey on the day of Harwick’s death, but was later released days later on $2 million bail. He was re-arrested four days later on a no-bond warrant and has been held without bond ever since.

One of Harwick’s friends, Hernando Chaves, who was present at the XBiz awards ceremony, said Harwick discussed security plans after speaking with Pursehouse off the show and that she sent a text message to Chaves to tell her that she had rebuffed Pursehouse’s subsequent attempt to contact her after finding her. online phone number.

Another friend testified that Harwick told him that Pursehouse had behaved very irrationally at the awards show.

“She said if anything ever happened to me, Gareth would do it,” said Robert Coshland, who described the victim as his closest friend.

Friends testified that they had never seen the woman smoke nicotine cigarettes, vape or inject.

The capped syringe that was found on the third-floor balcony of the Harwick home and later contained nicotine was the same brand as a syringe that was later found during a police search of the home of Pursehouse, the prosecutor said during the September 2021 hearing.