The grand jury transcript related to the indictment of the alleged killer of a research scientist from Irvine — who was shot while camping with his two young daughters in Malibu Creek State Park in 2018 — will be unsealed, a judge ruled Monday.
Anthony Rauda, 43, is facing a 16-count indictment charging him with the murder of 35-year-old Allergan scientist Tristan Thomas Beaudette, who was shot about 4:45 a.m. on June 22, 2018, while sharing a tent with his then 2- and 4-year-old daughters, who escaped injury.
Rauda is also is also facing 10 counts of attempted murder — Beaudette’s daughters are among the named victims — along with five counts of second-degree commercial burglary involving a series of crimes dating back three years.
Defense attorney Harry McKee argued that the transcript and exhibits were prejudicial to his client, but Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlaine Olmedo denied his motion to keep the information under seal.
“Mr. Rauda’s case is not quite the crime of the century,” Olmedo said, noting that the county’s jury pool is “diverse and somewhat immense,” so that it was unlikely that all potential jurors would be tainted by news of the case.
McKee also filed a motion to dismiss the charges against his client, arguing that grand jurors had been manipulated in their understanding of the law and some of the evidence.
He focused on the legal theory of a “kill zone” needed to support the charges of attempted murder.
“The defendant has to intend to kill everyone of a group in order to reach and kill his target,” McKee told the court.
He said the bullets fired into the tent couldn’t have possibly killed the two girls based on where they were sleeping, for example.
“There’s no evidence that the shooter knew who was inside the tent,” much less that he was targeting the girls, McKee said. “(It’s) not enough to endanger the lives of others.”
The defense attorney also accused the prosecution of presenting “improper, false, misleading testimony” and failing to disclose exculpatory evidence, calling the grand jury proceeding “fundamentally unfair.”
Deputy District Attorney Cynthia Barnes countered that McKee was making “an inflammatory allegation … to try and undermine my credibility” and the process itself.
She cited a long list of exculpatory evidence provided to the jury panel and asked the judge to unseal the briefs for both sides.
“I disagree with each and every one of the allegations that the defense made,” Barnes said.
Barnes also said Rauda had the requisite intent to kill the attempted murder victims.
“Just because he’s a bad shot doesn’t mean he didn’t try to fire (the bullets) into the tent,” Barnes said. “The jurors believed … that he had the intent to kill.”
The prosecutor said that “so long as (the jury’s finding) is consistent with a reasonable interpretation of the evidence,” the court should let the indictment stand.
Olmedo did not rule on the motion for dismissal or the oral motion to unseal the briefs, instead setting another hearing for Feb. 5.
Rauda — who could face life in prison if convicted as charged — has a string of convictions for weapons-related offenses dating back to 2006, according to a criminal complaint filed against him in January.
Prosecutors allege Rauda carried out attacks dating back to November 2016, when he allegedly wounded a man who was sleeping in a hammock in the Malibu State Park area. He allegedly fired into the sleeping area of a vehicle less than a week later.
Rauda is also charged with shooting into vehicles on three occasions in 2017 in which no one was injured, and shooting at a Tesla on Las Virgenes Road four days before Beaudette’s killing. He is additionally accused of a series of commercial burglaries between July 27, 2018, and Oct. 9, 2018.
He was arrested in October 2018 after a series of large-scale manhunts in the area for a rifle-toting culprit suspected in multiple food heists in the Calabasas area, including an early morning burglary at the Agoura Hills/Calabasas Community Center, where someone smashed a vending machine and stole food.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies thought the burglaries might be linked to Beaudette’s killing.
Rauda was allegedly carrying a rifle when he was arrested in a ravine about a mile-and-a-half north of Mulholland Highway west of Las Virgenes Road in the Malibu Canyon area, after deputies combing the area spotted fresh bootprints and tracked him down.
Authorities allege Rauda had been captured on surveillance video in one of those crimes carrying a rifle and wearing what sheriff’s investigators described as “tactical gear.”
The suspect in all of the heists stole food, detectives said, suggesting the man was living off the grid in the wilderness, carrying out the burglaries when he needed sustenance.
He was sentenced Dec. 13, 2018, to six months in jail for gun and ammunition violations, a sentence set to run consecutively with an earlier 160-day sentence for a probation violation.
In a statement released after Rauda was charged with Beaudette’s slaying, the sheriff’s department said evidence had been developed and gathered “incriminating Rauda as being responsible for a series of armed burglaries, multiple shooting incidents, and the murder of Tristan Beaudette.”
“A concentrated effort by detectives to unearth the past activities of Rauda correlating with this investigation has revealed that he apparently acted alone during this identified crime spree, stretching from November 2016 to October 2018. No similar crimes have been reported in the area since the October 2018 arrest of Rauda,” according to the sheriff’s statement.
Beaudette’s widow and two daughters filed a wrongful death lawsuit this summer against the county, claiming that the sheriff’s department failed to warn the public about earlier shootings in the same general area.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. James Royal filed a lawsuit alleging that his supervisors retaliated against him for trying to inform the public about shootings that occurred in and around Malibu Creek State Park before Beaudette’s killing.
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