New details in 1st murder by Clovis murder suspect

CLOVIS, Calif.

Eric Tidrick is charged with murdering his mother, Ladonna, and Action News has learned more about a prior murder conviction that means he could face the death penalty.

Tidrick is in a psychiatric health facility and couldn't be in court. His prior conviction came in 1978 when he was a juvenile, so the records are sealed. But Action News found archives, court records, and family members revealing details of the killing.

When Clovis police booked the 49-year-old Tidrick for the murder of his mother, the charges only scratched the surface on his violent history.

Court records show a prior conviction for battery in 1996, and going back to his teenage years, prosecutors uncovered a murder conviction on his juvenile record. The story made the Fresno Bee when Tidrick was 16 years old. He was one of three teenagers arrested for bludgeoning Larry Eugene Smith.

Family members say Tidrick wanted Smith's truck and he delivered the last kick to kill Smith. The teens were later arrested with Smith's truck.

Tidrick served three years in juvenile hall and his conviction in the case makes him eligible for the death penalty in the murder of his mother, 32 years later. It also complicates court proceedings.

"It means that instead of checking out just what happened here, we have to check out his whole life," said defense attorney Jim Lambe.

Tidrick's family members say he's had problems with alcohol and anger most of his life. They're hoping he'll plead guilty and end their misery. But they won't be in court to see him do it. They'd rather never see him again. But they did give Action News a statement about the victim, Ladonna Tidrick.

"There's more to this woman than this one moment in time," they said. "She was always helping people. She went to her death trying to clean Eric up."

Tidrick is expected to make his first court appearance Thursday morning. Court insiders expect his attorney to make an issue out of Tidrick's mental state.

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