“Tonight I felt very scared. … It terrifies me that he’s been obsessed with me for nine years, thinks about me every day.” These are the words, a successful family therapist in Hollywood, wrote in an email to herself after she ran into her ex-boyfriend, .
A month later, she was dead.
Prosecutors believe that a chance encounter at a red carpet event led Pursehouse to break into her home on Valentine’s Day 2020. They say he attacked Harwick and dropped her from her third-floor balcony. She later died from her injuries in the hospital. Harwick was 38 years old.
Pursehouse was arrested that same day.
Correspondent Erin Moriarty has been covering this case since “Justice for Amie Harwick,” an all-new “48 Hours” airing Saturday, Feb. 10 at 10/9c on CBS and streaming on Paramount +.on Feb. 15, 2020. Moriarty concludes her investigation in
Pursehouse went on trial for murder in a Los Angeles courtroom in August 2023.
“It became very clear to me that … [Pursehouse’s] obsession drove … his intent to kill her,” says Deputy District Attorney Catherine Mariano.
Prosecutors believe that obsession with Harwick was ignited when Pursehouse saw her at an awards show on Jan. 16, 2020 – about a month before her death. He was working the event as a photographer.
“Gareth came up behind me and started screaming, ‘Why are you here, why are you here?'” wrote Harwick hours after that red carpet incident. “He was sobbing, his head was in his hands, he was hyperventilating, he was distorting his face up and shaking violently.”
In an exclusive interview with “48 Hours,” Amie’s mother, Penny Harwick, recalls Amie telling her about that night and that she hadn’t seen Pursehouse in almost a decade.
“He called her a bitch and … he told her she ruined his life,” says Penny Harwick. “And she just told me how afraid she was. … And she said, ‘Mom, I went into therapist mode. I just tried to calm him.'”
After talking to Pursehouse for almost an hour, Amie Harwick left the event very worried and began looking into increased security measures, such as surveillance cameras, pepper spray, and sharing her location with her close friend, Robert Coshland.
Coshland says sharing her phone’s location was one of the few things Harwick felt she could do to feel safe. Harwick had received a restraining order against Pursehouse when they broke up years prior, but that had long expired.
Though Harwick found Pursehouse’s behavior at the awards show troubling, because he had not expressly threatened her, Coshland says she didn’t think going to police would help. Still, he says, Harwick was very concerned.
“That’s when she said, ‘Look, if something happens to me, he did it,'” recalls Coshland.
It was Coshland who came across the email two months after his friend’s death and shared it with investigators.
During the prosecution’s opening statements, Deputy District Attorney Victor Avila told the jury how Pursehouse had killed Harwick.
“He strangled her … lifted her up over the balcony and dropped her to her death.”
During the defense’s opening statement, Defense Attorney Evan Franzel told the jury that running into Harwick at that awards show had sent Pursehouse into “a deep debilitating depression” and the only way out of it was to talk to Amie on Valentine’s Day 2020.
“His only intention that night was to speak to her,” said Franzel.
Though the defense admitted to the jury that Pursehouse had broken into Harwick’s home, it denied that he had intended to kill Harwick that night. Instead, Franzel told the jury that Pursehouse had planned to kill himself that night.
During closing arguments, the defense presented a new theory of what happened in Harwick’s home: that Harwick may have attacked Pursehouse.
“We don’t know who initiated the physical confrontation,” said Defense Attorney Robin Bernstein-Lev.
But during the state’s closing arguments, it’s Harwick who had the last word — that email she had written to herself about encountering Pursehouse.
Before reading Harwick’s email to the jurors, Mariano told them:
“This email was written by Amie. Not only does it talk about her fear, but it talks about just how angry –not desperate – angry the defendant was.”
Reading excerpts from Amie’s email, Mariano continued:
“He couldn’t stop obsessing over me. He recited text messages that I had sent … about nine years ago. Recited the date, who they were to, and exactly what they said word-for-word. I couldn’t believe it. I was very scared. … I’m pretty nervous that I’m more on his radar now. … He’s focused on harming me. I’m hoping that this interaction and listening and giving him time, may cause a neutralization in his anger towards me.”
The lead homicide detective on Harwick’s case, Scott Masterson, now retired, said he had never seen anything like this before.
“That’s the closest we’ve ever had to a victim testifying in their murder. … I thought it was extremely devastating.”
But what would the jury think?
To see more of the case, watch “Justice for Amie Harwick,”an all-new “48 Hours” airing Saturday Feb. 10 at 10/9c on CBS and streaming on Paramount +.