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Mystery surrounds death of prominent attorney

December 9, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
The death of prominent Los Angeles attorney Jeffrey Tidus has turned into a real mystery. Investigators hope an autopsy will confirm whether he was murdered or committed suicide.Tidus was found shot in the head outside his home on the 4600 block of Sugarhill Drive in Rolling Hills Estates at about 8:30 p.m. Monday. Responding paramedics first thought the 53-year-old had tripped and hit his head on the pavement. He was rushed to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, where he died at about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Tidus and his wife had returned home from her business, Child's Play Toys, shortly before he was shot. His wife reportedly told police he had gone out to retrieve a laptop from his Toyota Prius. Moments later she found him sprawled in the driveway with a pool of blood around his head.

Detectives are calling the death suspicious. They say it is unclear who pulled the trigger. They haven't ruled out any possible scenarios, including suicide.

"Whatever kind of investigation you want to call it, it's going to be thorough, it's going to be complete and we will hopefully get to the bottom of what occurred out here as quickly as we humanly can," Los Angeles County Sheriff's Lt. Dave Dolson.

Sheriff's deputies recovered a single shell casing at the scene, but they did not find a gun.

Several neighbors heard a gunshot but detectives have not found anyone who saw a person or vehicle fleeing the area.

Detectives searched Tidus's house and car Tuesday night, looking for any clues. They also used a dog to search storm drains and bushes in the neighborhood.

Tidus was a partner at the law firm Baute & Tidus LLP in downtown Los Angeles. According to his Web site, Tidus handled a wide variety of business litigation and securities cases, as well as professional malpractice. He represented several corporate clients such as Hawthorne Savings, Isuzu Motors of America and New Century Financial.

New Century was one of the country's largest subprime lenders before it failed two years ago. On Monday, three of its top officers were sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and charged with fraud.

Detectives are going over his past legal cases and interviewing his business partners to determine whether his death was linked to his work.

Dolson said the autopsy on Tidus should be carried out in the coming days.

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