Police eye clues in death of prominent LA lawyer

AP News
Posted: Dec 09, 2009 8:54 PM

The death of a prominent Los Angeles lawyer found in his driveway with a gunshot wound to the head has baffled investigators who tried to determine Wednesday if the killing was a murder.

Jeffrey Tidus was shot Monday night as he went to fetch his laptop from his car outside his home in the wealthy Rolling Hills Estates suburb. While no weapon was found at the scene and friends said Tidus had been in good spirits recently, sheriff's detectives have not ruled out suicide.

"We have handled a couple of suicides where the gun was taken from the scene by either an unknown person or friends of the victim," Los Angeles County sheriff's Lt. Dave Dolson said.

Several factors indicate the death could be a targeted killing, but Dolson said nothing could be ruled out at this time.

Tidus' wife told investigators her husband went to the car at about 8:30 p.m. Monday. She heard a gunshot and rushed outside to find him lying behind his parked Toyota Prius. Several neighbors also heard the shot, but detectives found no one who had seen a person or vehicle flee.

Tidus, 53, represented a number of high-profile corporate clients, including Hawthorne Savings, Isuzu Motors of America and defunct subprime lender New Century Financial, according to his Web site.

His brother, Michael Tidus, dismissed the idea that the death could have been a suicide and said investigators had asked if anyone would have a grudge.

"All very, very successful lawyers when they win lots of cases, there's always losers," Michael Tidus said. "And he has won some very big cases in recent years."

Michael Tidus, a real estate lawyer, said his brother "seemed happy, he seemed perfectly fine." The two had spoken hours before the death, and Jeffrey Tidus voiced no concerns about his personal safety.

Longtime friend and fellow attorney Brian Hennigan said Tidus had run several marathons. When the pair ran together on Sunday, Tidus appeared in excellent spirits, he said.

"The suggestion that possible suicide hasn't been ruled out stretches my belief beyond imagination," Hennigan said. "He would be talking about his family pretty constantly. He loved life, loved being a lawyer."

Hennigan said he had no sense of Tidus being concerned for his safety. Business litigation typically generates none of the passionate acrimony that can be associated with family law or divorce work, he said.

Tidus died Tuesday in a hospital. An autopsy expected in the next few days could yield further clues, including ballistic evidence

The Los Angeles County coroner's office did not immediately return a call seeking comment.