Gareth Pursehouse, 45, was found guilty of murder in September
The ex-boyfriend of Hollywood sex therapist Amie Harwick — who was once Drew Carey’s fiancé — was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Gareth Pursehouse, 45, was found guilty of murder in September after throwing Harwick over a balcony at her Hollywood Hills residence in the early morning hours of Feb. 15, 2020. Pursehouse was also found guilty of first-degree residential burglary.
“The evidence showed he was obsessed with Amie Harwick,” Deputy District Attorney Victor Avila tells PEOPLE. “He felt entitled to her.”
Soon after Harwick's death, police zeroed in on Pursehouse, who she dated a decade earlier and sought two protective orders against. The last order expired in 2015.
“He kept finding her, kept seeking her out,” her friend Hernando Chaves previously told PEOPLE. “He didn’t respect the end of the relationship.”
Friends said Harwick began channeling her experiences into helping women and found her true calling as a therapist and teacher.
It turned out that a month before she died, she had a chance encounter with Pursehouse at an adult industry awards show where he was taking pictures on Jan. 16, 2020 at the JW Marriott in Los Angeles.
“Eight years by happenstance they bumped into each other,” says Avila. “He goes into this angry emotional tailspin and tells her she ruined his life."
The brutal murder unfolded on Valentine’s Day in 2020 when Harwick, 38, returned to her Hollywood Hills home after a night out with friends at a burlesque show.
In court documents obtained by PEOPLE at the time, prosecutors alleged that Pursehouse was waiting for her inside the three-story home, attacking Harwick around 1 a.m. on Feb. 15 and strangling her in the bedroom. When Pursehouse heard Harwick’s roommate screaming for help, he threw her over the third-floor wrought-iron balcony, according to prosecutors.
After falling 20 feet to the backyard patio, Harwick was barely clinging to life. Police officers at the scene said they could hear faint breathing, but she died two hours later at the hospital.
The medical examiner ruled that Harwick died in a homicide from blunt force trauma to the head and torso, along with manual strangulation.
In April of that year, Carey, 65, opened up about his ex-fiancé’s death, and how forgiveness was a part of his healing journey, on an episode of The Talk @ Home.
“After Amie’s murder, I took a week off. Really, I couldn’t function,” the Price is Right host said. “My first day back we taped the high school show for ‘Kids Week.’ It was all high school kids. It was my very first show back, and everybody knew what happened to me. And so I took time during the break to talk to these kids.”
“I wish he never did it. I wish he never met her,” Carey continued. He added, “I really try to practice instant forgiveness and unconditional love. The closest you can get to that, the better you are.”
“She was an outspoken advocate for women,” her best friend Robert Coshland previously told PEOPLE. “She would talk about these kinds of statistics about women being injured and killed by boyfriends. She became a statistic of something she actively talked about and lectured and helped people with all the time. It’s just doubly, triply tragic.”
Arriving in Hollywood in 2001, two years after graduating high school in the Philadelphia suburbs, Harwick hustled for jobs—dancing, modeling, party planning—to pay her way through college. She later became a family and sex therapist and bought her dream home in the Hollywood Hills.
“She was on a very good path, in a very good place,” her friend Eric Breslow previously told PEOPLE. “She was always just a spark of joy.”
If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.
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