On Friday, a jury in the 2018 slaying of a father who was tent camping with his two young kids in Malibu Creek State Park found a man guilty of m*rder. Anthony Rauda, 46, was charged with multiple crimes in connection with the shooting and, according to the prosecution, a subsequent crime spree.
The jury found Rauda guilty on all counts of second-degree commercial burglary and second-degree m*rder for the killing of Tristan Beaudette and the attempted m*rder of Beaudette’s two daughters and another person. On seven further counts of attempted m*rder and first-degree m*rder, he was found not guilty.
On June 7, Rauda will receive his sentencing. The m*rder of Tristan Beaudette on June 22, 2018, as he and his daughters tented, was tried as a first-degree case, but the jury convicted defendant Michael Rauda of second-degree m*rder. On Tuesday morning, after hearing the prosecution’s rebuttal argument, the case was presented to the downtown Los Angeles jury.
The prosecution alleged that Rauda was involved in a slew of shootings, most of which took place in the wee hours of the morning. The commercial burglary allegations stem from a string of break-ins between July and October 2018 at the Calabasas Community Center and the Las Virgenes Water District facility, during which time food was removed in large quantities.
Eleanor Hunter, the judge in the superior court case, mentioned that Rauda was not present for his trial. During Tuesday’s closing arguments, Deputy District Attorney Antonella Nistorescu said that the prosecution’s case against Rauda was “overwhelming.” The jury was then sent back to deliberate.
On Monday, Rauda’s counsel argued for an acquittal, telling the jury there was enough doubt to clear his client. On Monday, the prosecutor told the jury that Rauda had a “pattern of stalking and preying on campers” at Malibu Creek State Park, beginning with the shooting de@th of a man in a hammock in November 2016.
The victims, the prosecutor told the jury, were sh*t at in the early morning hours, when campers are typically in their deepest, most peaceful sleep. As Beaudette, a research scientist, slept next to his daughters, who were designated as victims in the 10 attempted m*rder counts, Nistorescu said the defendant “managed to do what he had persistently tried” to do since 2016.
The prosecutor claimed that Rauda was “thorough,” “deliberate,” and “careful” when he conducted the burglaries because he donned a mask, wore dark clothing, and carried a firearm. After the last break-in, on October 10, 2018, Nistorescu said they followed bootprints and a scent dog to a makeshift camp where they found Rauda.
Nicholas Okorocha, who represents Rauda, said that there was “reasonable doubt” about the claims. He instructed the jury to keep an eye out for holes in the evidence. Defense counsel stated, “You have these unanswered questions,” during his final argument.
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He said that DNA testing done on cigarette butts located close to where police think the shooter was when he fired at Beaudette’s tent proved that the DNA did not come from his client and did not match the DNA of the still unnamed shooter. The prosecutor argued that bringing up the cigarette butts was a “red herring,” as they were discovered at a public campground and had no bearing on Beaudette’s shooting.
At trial, Beaudette’s brother-in-law testified that he was camping nearby and heard a loud popping sound and one of the victim’s children sobbing before discovering the guy de@d with his two girls kneeling next to him in a pool of blood.
Scott McCurdy told the downtown Los Angeles jury in an emotional testimony that he was sleeping in a nearby tent on the morning of June 22, 2018, when he was awakened by “several loud pops” that he initially thought may have been fireworks or something from a nearby fire pit and saw “like a flash of light.”
He claimed he heard one of Beaudette’s kids sobbing and waited for his brother-in-law to comfort her before deciding to leave his own tent and find out what was wrong. He told the jury, “I heard the girls crying,” adding that he didn’t give the comment about Beaudette’s youngest daughter saying, “Wet, wet,” any thought at the moment.
After waking his brother-in-law from sleep, McCurdy said he tried to console the girls with words and then turned on his brother-in-law’s phone when he realized his own hand was shaking. He turned back to his brother-in-law and stated, “My hand was covered in blood,” adding that he had also seen the females kneeling in a pool of blood.
The following tweet serves as a confirmation of the news:
Anthony Rauda was convicted in the killing of Tristan Beaudette, a research scientist who was shot while camping inside a tent with his two young daughters. https://t.co/AAgBMmwvvy pic.twitter.com/RAm79GBwOH
— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) May 26, 2023
In an effort to check his brother-in-law’s pulse, he allegedly reached down to the back of his neck, at which point he recognized he needed to get the girls out of the tent and alert nearby campers. After a few neighbors arrived, the victim’s brother-in-law reportedly stayed outside with the girls until he could check on Beaudette inside the tent.
“I noticed there was nothing in his eyes,” he said of the 35-year-old Allergan research scientist from Irvine. “I realized he was gone and I left.” A small hole in the relatively new tent at the campsite, with toys strewn around and a children’s bike perched on one of the trucks, was the first clue he said, as he began to piece together what had happened to Beaudette.
Stacey Sebourn, the first prosecution witness and a camper in the area, testified that she heard what could have been shotgun or rifle fire early that morning. She claimed that she dialed 911 when she heard a man’s cry for help and a baby’s cries. “It was a very mournful cry for daddy over and over again – ‘daddy, daddy, daddy,'” she said.
She called 911 to report the shooting but said she had to whisper because she didn’t want her own tent to be discovered. “I was petrified,” she claimed, explaining why she stayed in her tent for a while after the shooting. On October 10th, 2018, police made an arrest on Rauda.
In December 2018, he received a six-month prison term for firearms and ammunition offenses, to run concurrently with the 160 days he was already serving on a probation violation. He was indicted in October 2019 after being charged in January 2019 for the alleged crime spree.
After being convicted of assaulting two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies while in detention, Rauda was sentenced to three years and eight months in prison in June. Surveillance footage documented both assaults and Rauda was later hauled to court while restrained in a wheelchair.
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