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Defense for Man Charged with Killing Hollywood Sex Therapist Suggests She Fell from Balcony While Fleeing Him
Gareth Pursehouse is charged with murder and burglary in Amie Harwick's death, with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office accusing him of throwing his ex off her home's balcony in 2020.
Lawyers for the man accused of killing sex therapist Amie Harwick claim she fell from her Hollywood Hills balcony rather than being thrown off by the defendant, as prosecutors have alleged.
During opening statements at Gareth Pursehouse's murder trial last week, his lawyers suggested that while Harwick was running away from her ex-boyfriend when he showed up at her home three years ago, she tried climbing over her balcony railing and accidentally fell off, according to People.
Pursehouse is charged with murder and burglary, with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office accusing him of throwing his ex to her death on February 15, 2020.
Harwick, a marriage and family therapist who wrote a 2014 book titled The New Sex Bible for Women, was once engaged to comedian and game show host Drew Carey before the pair called it off in 2018.
At around 1:16 a.m. on the morning of Harwick's death, patrol officers in Hollywood responded to a radio call of a "woman screaming," the Los Angeles Police Department stated in a press release days after the incident.
When police arrived to a residence on Mound St. in the Hollywood Hills, Harwick's roommate met them in the street, telling cops that Harwick was being assaulted inside her home. The roommate had climbed over a wall and headed to neighbors to call for help, the LAPD stated.
"When officers went to make entry, they found the victim on the ground beneath a third story balcony," the LAPD said at the time. "The victim was gravely injured. She suffered significant injuries consistent with a fall. The victim was unresponsive."
The local fire department took Harwick to a hospital, where she died from her injuries at age 38.
"The investigation revealed possible evidence of a struggle in the upstairs as well as forced entry to the residence," the LAPD said in the days after the incident. "A canvass of the area located further evidence of an intruder (suspect) entering the property and leaving after the murder.
"Detectives learned that victim had recently expressed fear about a former boyfriend and had previously filed a restraining order against this person," police added. "The restraining order had expired and the victim had seen this former boyfriend two weeks ago."
Pursehouse, who was 41 at the time and lived in Playa Del Rey, was arrested on February 15, 2020, the day Harwick died. He was released after posting bond, but later arrested again on a no-bail warrant, according to previous Oxygen.com reporting.
The Los Angeles Medical Examiner ruled Harwick's death a homicide and previously confirmed to Oxygen.com that she died of blunt force injuries to her head and torso and that there was also “evidence of manual strangulation."
In their opening statements last week, prosecutors said that Harwick and Pursehouse began dating in 2011, and that the following year, the therapist put an end to the relationship and filed a protective order against Pursehouse, alleging he'd physically and emotionally abused her, according to Law&Crime.
Years later, during a January 2020 event in Hollywood, Pursehouse was working as a photographer when he spotted Harwick on the red carpet, according to prosectors. Deputy District Attorney Victor Avila said at the trial that after the red carpet run-in, Pursehouse tracked down his ex's number and texted her, asking to speak with her.
She allegedly refused to, Law&Crime reports. But Pursehouse continued to push to see and talk to her, Avila said, outlining multiple calls, texts and a voicemail Pursehouse left for his ex, in which he was crying.
Harwick, allegedly concerned for her safety, blocked her ex-boyfriend's number, had security cameras installed at home, and changed the locks on her windows, prosecutors said. They added that Harwick also emailed herself a note about how frightened she was after seeing Pursehouse, stating in her memo that her ex was "obsessive and scary."
“She rejected his advances, she cut off all communication with him, so he punished her, broke into her house, and killed her,” Avila said in court last week.
Prosectors also said that DNA collected from blood found on French doors that opened into Harwicks's home — which were broken when emergency workers arrived on the morning of her death — matched Pursehouse’s DNA. They also allege that DNA taken from under the victim's nails is a match for DNA from Pursehouse.
The defendant's lawyer, Evan Franzel, acknowledged in court that his client running into Harwick at the Hollywood event “sent him into a deep, debilitating depression he was not able to overcome.”
“The evidence will show that running into her at that event sent him into a thick fog of depression and made him feel that the only way he could get relief from that pain was to go and talk to her,” Franzel added. “The evidence will show he never intended on killing her.”
The defense lawyer also claimed that a syringe discovered at the crime scene — which was loaded with a lethal dose of nicotine — was intended by his client to use to kill himself, not Harwick.