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Details revealed in forced miscarriage case

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POSTED October 18, 2012 9:39 p.m.


LOS ANGELES (AP) — A wealthy restaurateur charged with attempted murder of his girlfriend's unborn child lost a bid to have his $4 million bail reduced Thursday after prosecutors revealed new details of what they say were repeated efforts to give her labor-inducing drugs.

After impassioned arguments by lawyers for Joshua Woodward, Superior Court Judge Shelly Torrealba said she found no unusual circumstances that would require bail reduction.

Attorney Mark Werksman said the case, which began three years ago, was manipulated by prosecutors to allege four counts of attempted murder in order to raise the bail amount.

"The prosecution's choice of filing four counts is an arbitrary choice," he said. "Every count adds $1 million."

He said that in reality, "there is alleged to be one continuous course of action. There will be a trial and the question will be did he attempt to kill this woman's unborn child."

Woodward, wearing a blue jail uniform, sat glumly through the hearing, speaking only once to agree that his next hearing will be Nov. 29. The 40-year-old's lawyers indicated he would post bail as soon as possible.

In a motion filed Thursday, prosecutors said Woodward searched the Internet for information on how to cause a miscarriage, entering search terms such as, "Ways men have forced abortions," ''drugs that induce miscariages," and "Evil ways to terminate a pregnancy."

In August 2009, after learning his girlfriend was pregnant, prosecutors said he learned of the drug misoprostol, which could cause miscarriages. They said he obtained it on the black market and in late September began his mission, placing a pill in a drink the woman was consuming.

"She became violently ill and suffered from severe nausea and diarrhea," said the court papers. "However, her pregnancy was not terminated."

Days later, the papers said, Woodward went back to the Internet and learned the drug might be more effective if administered vaginally.

They alleged he administered the drug vaginally during sexual foreplay. The woman exhibited symptoms but did not miscarry.

After the third attempt, prosecutors said, the woman did miscarry but didn't tell Woodward.

Prosecutors said Woodward returned days later, believing the woman was still pregnant, and he was determined to complete his task. But he was stopped at the door by police who arrested him and seized a bag of white powder that later tested as misoprostol. More of the drug was found at Woodward's workplace, court documents said.

Woodward was charged with murder then, but the case was dropped. The investigation continued for three years before the current charges were filed.

Defense attorneys Werksman and Mitchell Egers said the case may come down to a "he said, she said" situation. Egers told reporters outside court, "She had ulterior motives to make up this story."

Woodward's restaurant holdings included the now-closed Table 8 in Los Angeles and another outlet of the same restaurant in Florida, where he now lives.


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