CA v. Gareth Pursehouse: Hollywood Obsession Murder Trial

Posted at 9:18 AM, September 27, 2023 and last updated 12:49 PM, September 27, 2023

LOS ANGELES (Court TV) — After deliberating for nearly eight hours, a Los Angeles jury has found Gareth Pursehouse guilty on all counts in the death of popular Hollywood marriage and sex therapist Dr. Amie Harwick.

A man wearing a suit without a tie sits in a courtroom looking down

Gareth Pursehouse sits in court on Aug. 29, 2023, as opening statements begin in his murder trial. (Court TV)

Pursehouse, 45, a former boyfriend of Harwick’s, faces life in prison without the possibility of parole when he’s sentenced on convictions of first degree murder and burglary.

Harwick was once engaged to Drew Carey.

At trial, Los Angeles County prosecutors alleged that Pursehouse was waiting for Harwick when she returned to her Hollywood Hills home after a night out with friends for a Valentine’s Day burlesque show in 2020.

Harwick’s roommate, Michael Herman, awoke around 1 a.m. on Feb. 15 to the sounds of a violent struggle in her third-floor bedroom. Herman told police that he could not find his phone, so he scaled a courtyard wall and ran to a neighboring home for help, The Associated Press reported.

When police officers arrived, they found Harwick lying on the ground 20 feet below her bedroom balcony. She was rushed to a hospital, where she died.

Harwick’s autopsy showed evidence of manual strangulation, but the county medical examiner determined she died of blunt force injuries to the head and torso.

Friends immediately suspected Pursehouse, with whom Harwick had ended a relationship in 2012. Harwick had accused him of physical abuse, and Pursehouse had been the subject of two restraining orders, according to court documents obtained by Court TV.

Friends said Harwick was able to avoid Pursehouse, a photographer, for eight years but in January 2020, about two weeks before her slaying, she ran into him at an adult film industry gala. At that meeting, witnesses said, Pursehouse accused Harwick of ruining his life.

He was arrested for her murder the day she died. Pursehouse was initially released on a $2 million bond, but he was taken into custody again a few days later on a no-bail warrant. He has remained in the Los Angeles County jail awaiting trial.


DAY 13 – 9/27/23

  • Jurors began deliberations at 9:44 am PT
  • After deliberating for nearly eight hours, a California jury found Gareth Pursehouse guilty on all counts
    • COUNT 1: Murder — GUILTY by means of lying in wait
    • COUNT 2: First degree residential burglary with person present — GUILTY
  •  After thanking the jurors and alternates for their service, the judge announced that sentencing would take place on Dec. 6

DAY 12 – 9/26/23

  • Prosecutors delivered closing arguments, highlighting that Amie’s death wasn’t a struggle, it was an assault.
  • The defense delivered closing arguments, and said that Gareth Pursehouse was in a genuine emotional crisis, that the nicotine syringe was intended for someone else besides Harwick, that it was possible Harwick preemptively attacked Pursehouse to subdue him and that it was possible she climbed over the balcony railing in an attempt to escape him.
  • In their rebuttal, prosecutors said there was no provocation in this case and that Pursehouse intended to kill Harwick all along.
    • Prosecutors said that Harwick’s injuries did not support her trying to climb down from the balcony, and that the best way for her to escape would have been to run towards the stairs, her roommate and help.
    • WATCH: Hollywood Obsession Murder Trial: Prosecution Rebuttal

DAY 11 – 9/21/23

  • Defense rests. Pursehouse elects not to testify.
  • Closing arguments scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 26

DAY 10 – 9/20/23

DAY 9 – 9/19/23

  • Defense made another motion for mistrial, which the Judge denied.
  • Ring video played for the jury of the defendant landing in Harwick’s neighbor’s yard on the night of February 15, 2020.
  • A jailhouse visit video was played for jury in which Pursehouse’s friends visit him. Pursehouse, not seen on video, mentions a restraining order, wanting all his money to go to his brothers, things looking bleak and wanting to write his jokes down but not having things to write with.

DAY 8 – 9/18/23

  • Photos of the defendant were taken after the date of the incident, the state pointed out bruises and scratches on his body.
  • Through the coroner’s testimony, graphic photos of the victim were shown to the jury. Jurors turned away/peered over to those in the front rows of the gallery, Harwick’s family bent their heads down, a woman on the defense side of the gallery appeared to also react very strongly.
  • WATCH: Hollywood Obsession Murder Trial: Detective Discusses the Case

DAY 7 – 9/15/23

  • Investigator Luis Topete testified the defendant has a file on his computer named “whorephone” that tracked folders referencing Harwick’s Gmail account.
  • Det. Scott Masterson (retired) presented crime scene photos. He testified Harwick’s home had several red stains throughout it.

DAY 6 – 9/14/23

  • Angeli G. testified to what she observed of Pursehouse the day after Valentine’s Day 2020.
  • Dr. Neal Benowitz concluded nicotine is lethal if it was injected into Harwick or Pursehouse.
  • Numerous photos were shown to the jury of the interior of Pursehouse’s residence and the items that were gathered from his residence.

DAY 5 – 9/13/23

  • WATCH: Hollywood Obsession Murder Trial: Day 5
  • The defense filed a motion to bring in an expert on suicidal risk factors. The judge has yet to sign an order to allow this.
  • Ofc. Ficek returned to the stand and the jury watched more of his bodycam video from the scene.
  • Dr. Wu found the nicotine in the syringe to be highly poisonous.
  • Det. Whetsel arrested Pursehouse on February 15, 2020 after 4:00 PM. There is bodycam video from that day, but not of the actual arrest.

DAY 4 – 9/12/23

  • After seven court days of no testimony, the trial picks back up.
  • One juror was dismissed due to health reasons, an alternate took their place.
  • The defense made two motions for mistrial, the court denied those.
  • The jury saw video of another officer bodycam. In it a fire dept. engineer is seen tending to Harwick. There is brief mention of Harwick’s jewelry. Similar to what we heard from a previous witness, the engineer addressed what appeared to be a lack of urgency in tending to Harwick. He noted he took multiple steps and mentioned that at a certain point, they could not do anything more other than wait for an ambulance to come.
  • Defense struggled to discredit the state’s witnesses’ testing process on the syringe found at the scene for nicotine.  The judge repeatedly told Franzel to move on and cited California evidence code 352.
  • Sarah Rollins, a friend of Amie Harwick, testifies the victim was scared of Pursehouse

DAY 3 – 8/31/23

  • Amie Harwick’s roommate, Michael Herman, continued testifying as the jury heard the 911 calls he made the night of the murder.
  • The jury viewed an officer’s bodycam from the night of Harwick’s death.
  • The jury viewed Harwick’s autopsy photos.

DAY 2 – 8/30/23

DAY 1 – 8/29/23

  • The jury hears opening statements
  • Dr. Hernando Chaves, a friend and colleague of Dr. Harwick, testified he saw Pursehouse confront Harwick at the XBIZ Awards.
    • Heard Pursehouse tell Harwick, ‘You ruined my life, you b-tch.’
    • Pursehouse confronted Harwick again during the dinner and after the show
    • Harwick said she was scared and worried she was going to be followed by Pursehouse