2 restraining orders not enough for 81-year-old murder victim

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Albert Thomas drew a crowd of family members for his first court appearance Monday on charges he murdered his mom, Florra. (KFSN)

Two restraining orders apparently couldn't protect an 81-year-old Fresno woman from her own son, who is now charged with her murder.

Albert Thomas drew a crowd of family members for his first court appearance Monday on charges he murdered his mom, Florra. He still hasn't entered a plea, but his attorney might've revealed the direction his defense is going.

On the corner where she lived and died, Florra Thomas inspired a loving tribute, still burning five days after her death. Police say her son, Albert, killed her last Wednesday. The 50-year-old is now charged with murder and his public defender revealed a possible defense in a request to Judge Brian Alvarez.

"I think this might be a case where he should be checked by the jail assessment team and the psychiatric folks there at Corizon, just for any needs he might have," said public defender Eric Christensen.

We weren't allowed to show Albert Thomas' face in court even though he told the judge he'd be fine with it being broadcast on TV. Between that unusual reaction and the police description of the crime, ABC30 legal analyst Tony Capozzi says Thomas may be aiming for an insanity defense.

"His prior history indicates some kind of mental instability," Capozzi said. "Again, looking at the crime, he needs to be examined by a psychiatrist. There's no question about that."

Thomas didn't have any recent criminal history, but Action News found two requests for restraining orders filed by his mother this year. In March, she said Albert screamed at her, broke her phone, crashed her car, and made at least $10,000 worth of unauthorized charges on her credit card. And early last week, Florra said her son threatened to cut off her head. A judge signed the new restraining order hours after she died, but Capozzi says it might not have been effective no matter what.

"Unless you have a police officer sitting at that house 24 hours a day, there's no way to really stop the person who's supposed to be restrained," he said.

Police had removed Albert Thomas from his mother's home Tuesday night. Her body was found early Wednesday morning.

He's now scheduled to enter a plea next week.
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