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Ex-boyfriend convicted of murdering Hollywood Hills sex therapist

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A man was convicted Thursday of murdering a prominent Hollywood sex therapist by throwing her over a balcony in the Hollywood Hills in 2020.

Gareth Pursehouse, 41, was found guilty by a jury of murdering his ex-girlfriend, Amie Harwick, 38, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

On Feb. 15, 2020, Harwick was found below a third-floor balcony at her Hollywood Hills home.

Harwick had “expressed fear” about Pursehouse before the fatal attack, police said. She had applied for two orders of protection against him at the time, according to the Los Angeles Times.

A longtime friend of the victim, Eric Breslow, told KTLA that Harwick had dated Pursehouse about seven or eight years ago at the time and that Pursehouse had become “obsessed” with her.

“This was a constant thing that she talked about,” Breslow said. “That she was afraid of this particular guy and it was always something that kind of followed her. It scared her enough to tell friends that, ‘I think I should get some mace or pepper spray.’”

In the years following their breakup, Harwick enjoyed a high-profile romance with actor and comedian Drew Carey. They became engaged in Jan. 2018 before ending their engagement later that year.

Then in Jan. 2020, she ran into Pursehouse at a professional event that she was attending and he was assigned to photograph.

“It was the absolute worst possible luck,” said Beverly Hills sex therapist Hernando Chaves, a close friend who was with Harwick at the event. Chaves said the chance encounter seemed to “reignite his obsessive preoccupation with her.”

On Feb. 15, 2020, police responded to Harwick’s home on the 2000 block of Mounds Street early that morning after reports of a woman heard screaming.

Arriving officers found Harwick’s roommate in the street. He told them Harwick was being assaulted inside the home. The roommate said he had jumped a wall and ran into a neighboring home to call for help.

Officers eventually discovered the gravely injured woman under a balcony. She was transported to a hospital where she later died. An autopsy revealed she died of blunt force injuries to her head and torso. The death was ruled a homicide.

Officers found signs of a struggle upstairs and evidence that someone had forced themselves into the home and left after the deadly fall.

Later that day around 4:30 p.m., Pursehouse was arrested at a home in the 8100 block of Cabora Drive in Playa Del Rey.

During trial hearings, prosecutors said Pursehouse broke into Harwick’s home and waited for hours for her to arrive before he strangled her and threw her body off the balcony. 

Pursehouse’s defense, however, told another story. After a syringe filled with a lethal dose of nicotine was found on the balcony, the defense claimed Pursehouse was suicidal and intended to use it on himself. They also claimed Harwick fell from the balcony by accident.

Pursehouse was found guilty by a jury of one count of murder and first-degree residential burglary with the special circumstance allegation of lying in wait, according to the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office.

He will be sentenced at a later date where he faces up to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

“Today, justice has been served for Amie Harwick and her loved ones who have endured unimaginable pain throughout this terrible ordeal,” George Gascón, L.A. County District Attorney. “Our thoughts and support remain with them as they begin to heal. I want to commend the diligent work and dedication of the prosecution team from the Major Crimes Division who worked to secure this conviction.”

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