The defence attorneys of a man accused of killing his ex-girlfriend by choking her and throwing her off a third-floor balcony rested their case without calling any witnesses.
Los Angeles authorities testified last week that Mr Pursehouse had developed an obsession with Dr Harwick after their relationship ended in 2012 and that she had filed two restraining orders against him, fearing he would harm her.
In the early hours of 15 February 2020, she came home to find that Mr Pursehouse had allegedly broken into her apartment. According to prosecutors, a fight ensued and the defendant then threw Harwick off the balcony.
Throughout the proceedings, Mr Pursehouse’s attorneys argued that he didn’t push Harwick and that she fell off the balcony while attempting to climb it down to escape from their client. The defence then rested their case without calling any witnesses.
“He set the chain of actions into motion that led to her death, but the evidence will show that he never intended on killing her,” attorney Evan Franzel told the jury, according to FOX News.
Robert Coshland, a friend of Harwick, told NewsNation that he was surprised by the legal strategy.
“I definitely thought they were going to present something,” Mr Coshland said. “I know that the angle they were leaning toward was completely different from what they postulated during the preliminary hearing that I also testified in, but when they didn’t present a case, I was shocked. I think everyone was shocked.”
Mr Coshland took the stand on Wednesday and testified that Harwick had told him that if “anything happened to [her], it would be Gareth.”
Mr Pursehouse’s attorneys showed the trial a picture of Dr Harwick wearing a black lace bodysuit and posing on the balcony’s edge. They then tried to argue that Harwick had “a certain comfort level with the balcony railing.”
“In a panic, she runs through her bedroom to her balcony, climbs up and over the railing, attempts to lower herself and climb down and is unsuccessful and falls,” Mr Franzel said.
The lawyer had previously argued that Mr Pursehouse had ample “opportunity” to use a lethal nicotine syringe found on the scene on Ms Harwick, but that he didn’t do so. The defence suggested that Mr Pursehouse brought the injection to use it on himself.
Prosecutors have argued that Mr Pursehouse threw Ms Harwick off the balcony. Her roommate testified that she heard what “sounded like bodies hitting the ground” as well as the “sound of women choking”.
One month before she died, Dr Harwick saw Mr Pursehouse at a porn awards party hosted by Stormy Daniels. By that point, her second restraining order had lapsed.
The doctor was attending the party because she had worked for a charity providing mental health guidance to people in the sex industry, while Mr Pursehouse was there as a photographer, DailyMail.com reported.
The pair reportedly argued at that part, with Mr Pursehouse allegedly saying that she had ruined his life.
The next month, Ms Harwick’s roommate called police to their apartment after she heard screaming. She later testified that, with the police, she found Harwick on the back patio “struggling to breathe”. She was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
The LA coroner determined that the cause of death was blunt force trauma to her head and upper body. The coroner also said there was “evidence of manual strangulation”.
Dr Harwick authored The New Sex Bible for Women and was engaged to The Price is Right host Drew Carey before the couple called it off in 2018.
Mr Pursehouse is also charged with a special circumstance allegation of lying in wait.
If found guilty, he could be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.