A Clovis man accused of stabbing his 77-year-old mother to death last week was convicted of murdering a McLane High School graduate in 1978.
Eric Curtis Tidrick, 49, was supposed to make his first appearance in Fresno County Superior Court on Tuesday, but his arraignment was delayed to Thursday because he is in a psychiatric unit, Judge Don Penner said.
A criminal complaint charges Tidrick with murdering his mother, Ladonna Tidrick, inside her Clovis apartment last Thursday.
He also faces a special-circumstance allegation that says he was convicted of murder in May 1978. Prosecutors say he was involved in the killing of 19-year-old Larry Eugene Smith, a McLane High graduate, whose bludgeoned body was discovered near Millerton Lake in March 1978.
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Tidrick was 17 at the time Smith was killed.
Because of the special allegation, prosecutors say Tidrick is eligible for the death penalty, but that decision has not yet been made.
He is being held in the psychiatric unit without bail, Penner said.
Court records of Smith's murder are confidential because Tidrick was a minor at the time. The Bee reported that Smith's bludgeoned body was found March 5, 1978, below Sky Harbor Road near the waterline. Two boys, ages 17 and 16, and a 15-year-old girl were arrested.
Robbery appeared to be the motive because one of the suspects had Smith's car, the story said. Smith had been dead at least a week and knew his assailants, sheriff's officials said at the time. Investigators also said Smith had never been in trouble of any kind.
Lorren Smith said Tuesday he was 14 when his brother disappeared. His brother's death "really tore the family up," he said.
When told that Tidrick might get the death penalty, Lorren Smith said: "I think it would be fitting."
In 1978, Fresno was peaceful and calm, Lorren Smith said. He was a Bee paperboy and the Tidricks, who lived about a block away, were one of his customers.
"They were pleasant," Lorren Smith said of Eric Tidrick's parents.
On the night his brother disappeared, Lorren Smith said he was roller-skating in Clovis. He said his brother was supposed to pick him up, but instead went to Millerton Lake with Eric Tidrick and another boy and a girl.
At the lake, Larry Smith was beaten to death with a rock, Lorren Smith said.
He said Tidrick was sentenced to about five years in custody. He said he couldn't remember the name of the other boy, but the girl was never charged.
"It still bothers me to this day," Lorren Smith said. "I still think about my brother and the life I could have had with him."
County records say Tidrick got married in December 1984. He and his wife had a daughter in June 1985 and another daughter in November 1986. His marriage ended in divorce in 1990.
Tidrick was arrested early Thursday after police received a 911 call from a man who said he had killed his mother at an apartment near Barstow and Villa avenues, spokeswoman Janet Stoll-Lee said.
Police later used an electronic stun dart to apprehend the man, whom Stoll-Lee identified as Tidrick.
Court records show Tidrick has had several brushes with the law, including a felony conviction for cultivation of marijuana in 2003.
He pleaded no contest to charges of growing marijuana and served several months in jail before he was put on probation and ordered to enroll in a program at Poverello House.