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Detectives look at attorney's cases, hoping to unravel shooting death outside Palos Verdes home

December 8, 2009 |  5:15 pm

Detectives were trying Tuesday to sort out the mysterious death of a prominent Los Angeles attorney found fatally shot in the frontyard of his home in an affluent Palos Verdes Peninsula suburb.

Jeffrey Tidus, an attorney with Baute & Tidus, a boutique civil law firm in downtown L.A., was found on the ground outside his home in Rolling Hills Estates on Monday night about 8:30 p.m. He died Tuesday morning at a hospital.

Tidus was a former board member of the State Bar of California, with a host of high-profile former clients including New Century Financial, Isuzu Motors, California Federal Savings and Tokai Bank. L.A. County Sheriff’s Department officials called the death highly suspicious but stopped short of classifying it as a homicide, saying more investigation was needed.

Tidus was shot once, and officials would not say whether they recovered a weapon. Tuesday afternoon, deputies scoured the neighborhood, searching in gardens and under bushes for evidence.

Lt. Dave Dolson said authorities are looking into Tidus’ cases to determine if his death might be linked to his work. He also tried to assure residents that the attorney’s death appeared not be random.

“I don’t think the residents of this neighborhood need to be worried,” Dolson said. “It doesn’t appear to me that it’s something random.”

Neighbors said Tidus’ wife told them he went outside to get a laptop computer from his car, a Prius, but didn’t make it back after a shot rang out last night. They said they saw the laptop on the lawn, and blood was visible on the driveway.

On Sugarhill Drive, a street of ranch houses valued at $1 million or more that was sprinkled with holiday decorations, Tidus was described as a friendly presence who ran marathons and often walked his dog in the area.

“This is startling us here,” said Harry Petru, 71.

“I’ve never heard of anyone being shot in my entire 19 years here,” added Jane Hughes, a neighbor.

-- Richard Winton in Los Angeles and Jeff Gottlieb in Rolling Hills Estates

Photo:  L.A. County sheriff's deputies stand watch in front of a house in the 4600 block of Sugarhill Drive on Tuesday afternoon as detectives investigate the shooting death of attorney Jeffrey Tidus. Credit: Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times