3RD UPDATE, 3:39 PM: The ex-boyfriend of Hollywood therapist Dr. Amie Harwick has been ordered to stand trial for murder in connection with her death last year.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael E. Pastor ruled today that the prosecution had presented “more than enough evidence” against Gareth Pursehouse in the death of Harwick, a respected family and sex therapist and ex-fiancée of Drew Carey who was thrown from the third-floor balcony of her Hollywood Hills home on February 15, 2020.
Prosecutors allege that Pursehouse, now 43, was “obsessed” with Harwick. He is charged with one count each of murder and first-
degree residential burglary, along with the special-circumstance allegation of lying in wait that means he could face the death penalty if convicted.
Deputy District Attorney Victor Avila told the judge that the events that culminated with Harwick’s death began with an exchange about a month earlier between the victim and Pursehouse outside the XBiz adult entertainment awards ceremony at the JW Marriott in Los Angeles, during which he allegedly told her that she had ruined his life and called her a “bitch.”
Avila said the defendant broke into Harwick’s home and waited about four hours for her to return in an attempt to “catch her by surprise” while armed with a syringe containing a “lethal” dose of nicotine.
“With his strength, he throws her over the balcony,” the deputy DA told the court, noting that the 5-foot-4, 120-pound woman likely had fought back against Pursehouse, who is 6-foot-3 and 100 pounds heavier than she was.
DNA evidence found underneath her fingernails and on a French door in her living room linked Pursehouse to the attack, Avila said.
One of Pursehouse’s attorneys, Jannet Santiso, noted that the DNA evidence could not be dated and neither could scratches and bruises subsequently found by police on Pursehouse. She also questioned whether the DNA evidence may have been contaminated.
Another defense attorney, Robin Bernstein-Lev, told the judge that testimony that Pursehouse appeared emotional and distraught when he and Harwick met up outside the Jan. 16, 2020, awards show did not prove anything other than that he was trying to talk to her.
There was “no evidence Mr. Pursehouse ever made a threat of harm” to Harwick and “no evidence of a homicidal intent” by Pursehouse, Bernstein-Lev said. “There is no evidence that she was thrown from a balcony. … They’re asking this court to speculate.”
Read more details of the case below.
2ND UPDATE, April 16, 2020: The ex-boyfriend of Hollywood therapist Dr. Amie Harwick pleaded not guilty to a murder charge today in Los Angeles. Gareth Pursehouse is accused of killing Harwick, the ex-fiancée of Drew Carey, who was thrown from the third-floor balcony of her Hollywood Hills home on February 15.
Pursehouse could face the death penalty if convicted on the murder charge, which includes a special circumstance allegation of lying in wait. Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek the death penalty against him. Read details of the case below.
UPDATED, February 20: Potentially facing the death penalty, he ex-boyfriend accused of murdering Dr. Amie Harwick this past weekend will continue to sit in jail until at least March 4.
An arraignment of Gareth Pursehouse scheduled for this morning in the criminal courts in downtown Los Angeles was pushed back to early next month by Judge Miguel Espinoza. Based on his own order of Thursday, the L.A. Superior Court judge will on March 4 formally oversee Pursehouse, who was re-arrested yesterday afternoon without bail after posting a $2 million bond just hours before, being charged with one count each of murder and first-degree residential burglary with the special circumstance allegation of lying in wait.
Pursehouse will remain being held with possibility of bail until next month and likely beyond that if the office of L.A. County D.A. have their way.
PREVIOUSLY, FEB. 19 PM: The former boyfriend who authorities believe killed Dr. Amie Harwick on February 15 is back behind bars and facing the death penalty for the Hollywood therapist’s death.
Less than 24 hours after posting a $2 million bond and walking free, Gareth Pursehouse was arrested for a second time today by the LAPD and will face arraignment tomorrow in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom. The L.A. County District Attorney’s office has charged Pursehouse with one count each of murder and first-degree residential burglary with the special circumstance allegation of lying in wait.
Pursehouse was first picked up by the cops on Saturday afternoon near his Playa del Rey residence.
Now being held without bail, it is that last part of the charges that put the suspect in line for the death penalty in the Golden State. Whether or not Jackie Lacey’s office pursues the death penalty for Pursehouse, or life in prison without the possibility of parole, will be finalized later, representatives for the D.A. said Wednesday. Though California still hands out capital punishment, Governor Gavin Newsom put the brakes on further executions by official moratorium in March of last year.
Harwick, 38, the former fiancée of Drew Carey, was killed during the alleged altercation with Pursehouse in the early morning hours of Saturday at her Hollywood Hills home. A respected family and sex therapist, Harwick appeared in the 2015 documentary Addicted to Sexting. She and The Price Is Right host Carey dated for around for a year before the two split up in 2018.
After dating Pursehouse in past years, Harwick had a restraining order against him after they broke up. That order had expired and the duo had seen each other in the past few weeks before the attack at Harwick’s home last weekend, according to the LAPD. That meeting was in passing at an industry event, I hear.
Taken to a nearby hospital once police were called, the L.A. County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner said that the therapist died from blunt force injuries of the head and torso. A report made public yesterday classified Harwick’s death as a homicide. The Coroner’s office added that said the injuries occurred when she fell from the third-floor balcony after an altercation. It also found “evidence of manual strangulation.”
Deputy L.A. D.A Victor Avila of the Major Crimes Division and Deputy L.A. D.A. R.J. Dreiling of the Family Violence Division are prosecuting the case for the County. The LAPD say that the matter is still considered an ongoing investigation.
Jackie Lacey is facing a hard primary March 3 challenge in her attempt at a third term, with two of her own deputies in the race to replace the incumbent, as well as former San Francisco top cop and D.A. George Gascon.
Erik Pedersen and City News Service contributed to this report.