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Restaurateur accused of poisoning girlfriend to cause miscarriage

Joshua Woodward, an investor in Los Angeles and Miami restaurants, pleads not guilty to four counts of attempted murder.

October 18, 2012|By Andrew Blankstein, Los Angeles Times

A prominent restaurateur pleaded not guilty Wednesday to multiple counts of attempted murder after prosecutors said he tried to cause his pregnant girlfriend to miscarry by poisoning her with a substance known to induce labor.

Joshua Woodward, 40, an investor in Los Angeles and Miami restaurants, including the old Table 8, was charged Tuesday with four counts of attempted murder. He turned himself in Wednesday morning and entered his plea at a downtown Los Angeles courtroom.

The Florida resident, who is being held in lieu of $4-million bail, faces a potential life term in state prison with the possibility of parole, prosecutors said.

The charges came nearly three years after Woodward was first arrested on suspicion of murder. But in October 2009 LAPD investigators chose not to formally present a case to prosecutors within the 48-hour charging period and Woodward was released from custody.

As part of their ongoing investigation, Los Angeles police investigators conducted additional witness interviews, combed medical records and conducted further testing on the powder — later determined to be misoprostol, which is used to induce labor. It can also be used to induce early term abortions.

All four of the attempted murder counts involve efforts to kill the fetus between Sept. 15, 2009, and Oct. 25, 2009, according to prosecutors with the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

Woodward's attorney, Mark Werksman, said police and prosecutors still don't have a case against his client. The charges, he said, are an attempt to turn "an unfortunate natural miscarriage of a 13-week-old fetus into a ghoulish attempted murder case."

"Nothing has changed in the last three years except the prosecution's determination to blame Joshua Woodward for the miscarriage suffered by his girlfriend," Werksman said. "The evidence marshaled against him is so weak and speculative as to be nonexistent."

In October 2009 Woodward's girlfriend, who was not identified, told detectives that Woodward allegedly rubbed a white powder on her. Soon after coming in contact with the powder she miscarried.

A week later, police arrived at her Los Angeles apartment and allegedly found Woodward grinding a white substance in his hands.

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