A man who fatally shot a research scientist as he slept inside a tent with his two young daughters at Malibu Creek State Park was convicted Friday of second-degree murder and other charges.
Anthony Rauda, 46, who was dubbed the “Malibu sniper” by some when authorities accused him of involvement in multiple shootings in or near the park, was also convicted of three counts of attempted murder and five counts. commercial theft in the second degree.
The jury acquitted him of seven other counts of attempted murder.
Prosecutors had been seeking a first-degree murder conviction for the June 22, 2018 slaying of Tristan Beaudette while he was camping with his daughters, but jurors convicted Rauda instead of the lesser second-degree murder charge.
Beaudette’s wife wept in court as the verdicts were read. Speedy, who had previously waived her right to be present, was not in the downtown Los Angeles courtroom.
Superior Court Judge Eleanor Hunter set sentencing for June 7.
Hunter thanked the jurors for their service and noted their diligence in deliberating a complex case that included 16 counts overall. The jury began deliberating Tuesday morning.
“This was difficult,” he told the jury before dismissing them.
Prosecutors tried to link Rauda to a series of shootings, all of which typically occurred in the early hours of the morning. The commercial theft charges involved a series of break-ins, including two at the Calabasas Community Center and two at a Las Virgenes Water District facility between July and October 2018, primarily involving food that was taken from the facility.
In the prosecution’s closing argument Tuesday, just before the jurors were sent back for their deliberations, Assistant District Attorney Antonella Nistorescu told jurors that the evidence against Rauda was “overwhelming.” .
In his closing argument Monday, Rauda’s lawyer told the panel that there is reasonable doubt and urged the jury to acquit his client.
The prosecutor told jurors Monday that Rauda had a “pattern of stalking and preying on campers” at Malibu Creek State Park, beginning with a man who was shot while sleeping in a hammock in November 2016 and that the victims received shots were fired between 3 and 5 a.m., a time when the prosecutor said people are generally in their deepest, most peaceful sleep, while camping at the state park.
Unsuspecting motorists were also shot while driving nearby in white vehicles at night, and ballistics evidence later linked a rifle found in a backpack Rauda was carrying at the time of his arrest to the bullet that killed Beaudette and a gunshot. that damaged a target. Tesla driven by a few days earlier, according to the prosecutor.
Nistorescu said the defendant finally “managed to do what he had been persistently trying to do” when he killed Beaudette as she slept next to her daughters, who were named victims among 10 counts of attempted murder in the case. Beaudette’s youngest daughter’s leggings were covered in her father’s blood when she knelt next to him after the shooting, the prosecutor said.
The prosecutor alleged that Rauda was wearing a mask and dark clothing and was carrying a rifle when he committed the robberies, calling it “thorough”, “deliberate” and “careful”.
After the latest raid, Rauda was tracked through boot prints and a sniffer dog to a makeshift camp on October 10, 2018, Nistorescu said.
Rauda’s lawyer, Nicholas Okorocha, responded that there were “reasonable doubts” about the charges against his client.
He told jurors that they should be vigilant about the absence of evidence that would indicate loopholes in the case.
“You have these unanswered questions,” the defense attorney said in his closing argument.
He noted that DNA tests conducted on cigarette butts found near where authorities believe the gunman fired on Beaudette’s store showed that the DNA came from an as-yet-unidentified man and did not match his client’s DNA.
Okorocha said the investigation has spanned four and a half years and is “still ongoing” as authorities try to figure out whose DNA is found on the cigarette butts.
“Clearly, there is a reasonable doubt,” he said, telling the jury that he is asking them to “follow the law” and “convict Anthony Rauda.”
In her rebuttal argument, the prosecutor responded that the discussion of the cigarette butts was a “red herring,” saying they were found at a public campground and had no logical connection to the Beaudette shooting.
During the trial, Beaudette’s brother-in-law, who was camping in a nearby tent, testified that he heard loud bangs and the crying of one of the victim’s sons, and found the man dead as his two daughters knelt beside him. him in a pool. of blood.
During emotional testimony, Scott McCurdy told downtown Los Angeles jury that he was sleeping in a nearby tent when he was awakened by “several loud bangs” that he initially thought might have been fireworks or something from a nearby fire pit and saw “like a flash of light” early in the morning of June 22, 2018.
She said she heard one of Beaudette’s daughters start to cry and waited for her brother-in-law to calm the girl down, then decided to come out of her own shop to see what was going on when she heard the girl’s older sister talking to her. hers.
“I heard the girls crying,” he said, telling jurors that Beaudette’s youngest daughter said, “Wet, wet” and that he didn’t think anything of it at the time.
McCurdy said she tried to verbally comfort the girls while trying to wake up her brother-in-law and turned on her brother-in-law’s phone after noticing her own hand felt slippery.
“My hand was covered in blood,” she said, noting that she turned to her brother-in-law and saw the girls kneeling in a pool of blood and her brother-in-law’s face in a pool of blood.
She said she crouched down to try to feel her brother-in-law’s pulse in her neck and realized she should get the girls out of the tent and ask neighboring campers for help.
The victim’s brother-in-law said he held the girls until some neighbors arrived, then went back to the store to check on Beaudette.
“I noticed there was nothing in his eyes,” he said of the 35-year-old Allergan research scientist from Irvine. “I realized that he was gone and I left.”
He said that he began to piece together what had happened to Beaudette and remembered that he had noticed that there was a small hole in the fairly new tent at the campsite, where toys were scattered about and a children’s bicycle was sitting on top of one of the vehicles. .
The prosecution’s first witness, Stacey Sebourn, who was camping nearby, said she was awakened early that day by the sound of gunshots that seemed to come from a shotgun or rifle. She said she called 911 after hearing a man calling for help and a baby crying.
“It was a very sad cry for dad over and over again: ‘dad, dad, dad,’” she said.
He said he whispered during his 911 call to report the shooting because he didn’t want to draw attention to his own store.
“I was petrified,” she said, noting that she didn’t initially leave her store after the shooting.
Rauda was arrested on October 10, 2018.
He was sentenced in December 2018 to six months in prison for weapons and ammunition violations, a sentence that will run consecutively with a previous sentence of 160 days for a probation violation.
He was charged in January 2019 with the alleged crime wave and subsequently prosecuted in October 2019.
Rauda was sentenced last June to three years and eight months in prison after being convicted of assaulting two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies while in custody. Both attacks were caught on surveillance video, and Rauda was later brought into court for further hearings in a chair in which he was confined.