The ex-boyfriend of a well-known marriage and sex therapist was sentenced today to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the woman's deadly plunge from the third-floor balcony of her Hollywood Hills home.
Gareth Pursehouse, 45, of Playa del Rey, was convicted of first-degree murder for the killing of 38-year-old Amie Harwick in the early morning hours of Feb. 15, 2020.
Jurors deliberated about two days before finding Pursehouse guilty Sept. 28 of Harwick's killing, along with the first-degree burglary of Harwick's home.
The panel also found true a special circumstance allegation of murder while lying in wait.
Prosecutors argued during the trial that Harwick was caught by surprise by Pursehouse, who broke into her home, waited for hours, attacked her and then tossed her off the third-floor balcony.
In his closing argument, Deputy District Attorney Victor Avila told jurors that Pursehouse decided on Valentine's Day to end Harwick's life and that she "doesn't know what's waiting for her at home" when she returned early the next morning after a night out with friends.
The prosecutor said Pursehouse was a "man who couldn't move on," and noted that Harwick had written an email to herself and sent text messages to friends indicating that she was scared of Pursehouse after randomly seeing him at an event about a month earlier and rebuffing his subsequent attempts to stay in contact with her.
"He didn't go there to talk. He's on a mission," the prosecutor said. "He's angry, he feels rejected."
The deputy district attorney said Pursehouse broke into the woman's home, waited for three to four hours, punched and strangled her as she tried to fight for her life and then dropped her over the balcony.
"This is not a defendant who is depressed," Avila said.
The two had dated years earlier for about 18 months, with Harwick ultimately obtaining a restraining order against him in 2012.
One of Pursehouse's attorneys, Robin Bernstein-Lev, told jurors that her client lost control after being overwhelmed by his emotions and "impulsively broke in" to Harwick's home in a "desperate attempt" to talk with her.
Pursehouse was "suffering a great emotional upheaval -- one that interfered with his thought process" after seeing her in the "chance encounter" about a month earlier that "left him reeling," she said.
"Gareth was consumed by emotions and in a crisis," Pursehouse's lawyer told the panel, saying that is the hallmark of the types of emotions that prevent a person from deliberating a first-degree murder.
"Her death was never his goal," Bernstein-Lev said.
An autopsy determined that the woman died from "blunt force injuries of the head and torso" and that there was evidence of "manual strangulation," according to records from the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner's Office.
Police responded to the home around 1:15 a.m. that day in the 2000 block of Mound Street following a 911 call by Harwick's roommate, who reported hearing her scream.
Harwick, a published author who was once briefly engaged to comedian and "The Price is Right" host Drew Carey, was taken to a hospital where she was pronounced dead.
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