Legal Insights into the Amie Harwick Case: Murder And First-Degree Residential Burglary Charges Explained

Legal Insights into the Amie Harwick Case: Murder And First-Degree Residential Burglary Charges Explained

The Amie Harwick case has garnered significant attention due to the shocking and tragic nature of the incident. The charges brought against Gareth Pursehouse are one count each of murder and first-degree residential burglary in the death of 38-year-old Amie Harwick on February 15, 2020. This incident unfolded in California, and we will delve into the key aspects of the case.

The Charges: Murder and First-Degree Residential Burglary

Murder (Penal Code 187):

Gareth Pursehouse faces a murder charge under California Penal Code 187. This charge stems from allegations that he took deliberate actions leading to the tragic death of Amie Harwick. The prosecution contends that Pursehouse engaged in a premeditated act when he decided to end Harwick’s life. According to their argument, he meticulously planned and executed the murder by breaking into her residence, waiting for hours, physically assaulting her, and ultimately throwing her off the third-floor balcony. The special circumstance allegation of murder while lying in wait further intensifies the charge, potentially subjecting Pursehouse to a life prison sentence without parole if convicted.

First-Degree Residential Burglary (Penal Code 459):

Pursehouse also faces a charge of first-degree residential burglary in accordance with California Penal Code 459. This charge is rooted in the assertion that he unlawfully entered Amie Harwick’s home with the intent to commit a felony or theft. The specific intent behind this entry was to confront or harm Harwick. The first-degree designation is due to the fact that the burglary occurred within a dwelling, which is a more serious offense than entering a non-residential property.

The Prosecution’s Case

During the trial, prosecutors argued that Pursehouse had planned to end Harwick’s life. They alleged that he broke into her home, waited for several hours, physically attacked her, and ultimately threw her off the third-floor balcony. Evidence showed Pursehouse’s anger after Harwick’s rejection and her fear conveyed in text messages and emails to friends.

Key Pieces of Evidence

Several pieces of evidence were presented during the trial, including:

  1. Text messages and emails indicating Harwick’s fear of Pursehouse.
  2. A syringe found on the balcony containing a lethal dose of nicotine, which the defense claimed was not intended as a weapon.
  3. Autopsy results that revealed blunt force injuries and evidence of manual strangulation as the cause of Harwick’s death.

The Defense’s Perspective

Pursehouse’s defense countered by suggesting that he lost control of his emotions and impulsively broke into Harwick’s home to talk with her. They emphasized that he was in a state of emotional upheaval after a chance encounter with Harwick. Which had a profound impact on him. The defense argued that his actions were not premeditated, and his primary goal was not to cause her harm.

Legal Defenses

In the Amie Harwick case, an experienced criminal defense attorney will play a crucial role in the proceedings. The defendant will likely rely on a defense strategy to counter the charges brought against him. Which include murder and first-degree residential burglary. Here are potential legal defenses that may come into play:

1. Self-Defense or Lack of Premeditation: Pursehouse’s defense team may argue that he did not have the intent to commit murder and that his actions were prompted by a perceived threat or confrontation. The attorney might assert that the incident was not premeditated. That Pursehouse acted in self-defense or without a prior plan to harm Amie Harwick.

2. Challenges to Evidence: Pursehouse’s defense team may challenge the validity or admissibility of certain evidence presented by the prosecution. This could include contesting the chain of custody for physical evidence, the reliability of witness statements, or the legality of search and seizure procedures.

3. Mental State or Capacity: The defense might explore Pursehouse’s mental state at the time of the incident. They could argue that he was suffering from a mental disorder or emotional distress that impaired his judgment.

4. Accident or Lack of Intent: For the first-degree residential burglary charge, Pursehouse’s defense might claim that he did not enter Amie Harwick’s home with the intent to commit a felony or harm her. They could assert that his actions were accidental or driven by other motives not related to criminal intent.

Possible Jail Time and Sentencing Consequences

Murder Charge (Penal Code 187):

Murder is a grave offense in California. Pursehouse is facing a murder charge with a special circumstance. If convicted of first-degree murder with the special circumstance allegation, Gareth Pursehouse could face life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Which is the most severe punishment for murder in California.

First-Degree Residential Burglary Charge (Penal Code 459):

First-degree residential burglary is a felony charge with serious legal implications. If convicted of first-degree residential burglary, the defendant may face a state prison sentence. The length of the sentence will depend on factors such as prior criminal history and the circumstances of the crime.


The case is now in the hands of the jury. The jury must carefully consider all the evidence and arguments presented during the trial. This verdict will either find Pursehouse guilty of murder and burglary or acquit him of these serious charges. An experienced criminal defense attorney will play a crucial role in this challenging legal battle. If  find yourself navigating the complexities of murder and first-degree residential burglary charges, don’t hesitate to reach out to our legal team at The Law Offices of Arash Hashemi at (310) 448-1529 or contact us online.

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One comment

  1. […] without parole. This decision was announced by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. Gareth Pursehouse, 45, was convicted of murder in September. He threw Harwick over a balcony at her Hollywood Hills home on February 15, 2020. Pursehouse was […]

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