Aug 20, 2023

Man who killed Irvine scientist camping with kids in Calabasas gets 119 years

A man convicted of fatally shooting a research scientist from Irvine as he slept inside a tent with his two young daughters in Malibu Creek State Park in what the judge called a "cold-blooded" crime was sentenced on Wednesday, June 7, to 119 years to life in prison.

Anthony Rauda, 46, was brought into a downtown Los Angeles courtroom in a restraint chair and wearing a spit-hood over his head — the result of two earlier attacks on sheriff's deputies while he's been in custody.

He was convicted May 26 of second-degree murder for the June 22, 2018, killing of 35-year-old Tristan Beaudette. Jurors also found Rauda guilty of three counts of attempted murder, including two involving Beaudette's daughters who were not struck by gunfire, along with five counts of second-degree commercial burglary.

Jurors acquitted Rauda of seven other attempted-murder charges involving a series of other early morning shootings in the same area.

"This case was chilling," said Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Eleanor Hunter. "It was violent. It was cold-blooded. There's absolutely no remorse."

The victim's widow, Erica Wu, requested the maximum sentence for Rauda, saying in an emotional statement that she wanted to tell their daughters that the person who had killed their father would be behind bars for life.

"It's the only outcome that makes sense, that they and I are safe and that we never have to worry about him getting out, that this person (is) never allowed to walk a day free when he robbed Tristan of that very same privilege and robbed everyone Tristan knew of having him in their lives," she said.

"Even though I wasn't there, I feel as if I was," she said.

Their daughters were 2 and 4 years old at the time.

"I hope that he would have died instantly and not had to experience any of it," she said. "But did he feel it? Did he know what happened? Were there seconds or minutes where he felt pain, where he could feel his own blood pooling beneath him, where he could see or hear his girls screaming or crying next to him?"

During the murder trial, Deputy District Attorney Antonella Nistorescu told jurors the evidence against Rauda was "overwhelming," while Rauda's attorney told the panel that there was reasonable doubt and urged the jury to acquit his client.

The prosecutor said ballistics testing linked a rifle that was found in a backpack Rauda was carrying at the time of his arrest to the bullet that killed Beaudette and a shooting that damaged a white Tesla being driven nearby a few days earlier.

The prosecutor said Rauda wore a mask and dark clothing and toted a rifle when he committed burglaries, including two at the Calabasas Community Center and two at the Las Virgenes Water District from July to October 2018, calling him "thorough," "deliberate" and "careful."

After the last break-in, Rauda was tracked down through bootprints and a scent dog to a makeshift encampment on Oct. 10, 2018, Nistorescu said.

Rauda's attorney, Nicholas Okorocha, noted that DNA testing done on cigarette butts found near where authorities believe the gunman shot at Beaudette's tent showed that the DNA came from an unidentified male and that it does not match his client's DNA.

The prosecutor countered that the cigarette butts were found in a public campground and had no connection to Beaudette's shooting.

Beaudette's brother-in-law Scott McCurdy had told the jury that he was sleeping in a nearby tent 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" early the morning of June 22, 2018.

He said he heard one of Beaudette's daughters start to cry and waited for his brother-in-law to calm the girl down, then decided to get out of his tent to see what was going on when he heard the girl's older sister talking with her.

"I heard the girls crying," he said, telling jurors that Beaudette's youngest daughter said, "Wet, wet" and that he didn't think anything about it.

McCurdy said he tried to verbally comfort the girls while trying to rouse his brother-in-law from sleep.

He then saw the girls kneeling in a pool of blood and his brother-in-law's face in a pool of blood.

He said he reached down to try to feel his brother-in-law's neck for a pulse and realized he should get the girls out of the tent.

Another camper called 911.

The victim's brother-in-law said he held onto the girls until a few neighbors came over and then he went back into the tent to check on Beaudette.

"I noticed there was nothing in his eyes," he said. "I realized he was gone."

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