A man has been convicted in the murder of a scientist shot dead on a family camping trip while sharing a tent with his young daughters in a California state park.
Anthony Rauda, 46, was found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Tristan Beaudette, 35, who was fatally shot in June 2018 at Malibu Creek State Park. He was also convicted of multiple burglaries and three counts of attempted murder: two counts related to opening fire in the direction of Beaudette’s daughters and a third related to shooting a Tesla driver, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The defendant, who has been convicted of attacking two sheriff’s deputies since his arrest in late 2018, declined attendance at trial but will be present for sentencing next month.
Prosecutors painted a picture of Rauda’s “pattern of stalking and preying upon campers.” He had been charged with seven other counts of attempted murder but was acquitted this month after he could not be definitively tied to the scenes.
Mr Beaudette had been sleeping in a tent with his daughters, aged two and four, in the early morning hours of 22 June 2018. when he was fatally shot in the head. During the trial, his brother-in-law emotionally described awaking to hear one of his niece’s crying and saying “Wet, wet,” ABC7 reported.
He attempted to wake up his brother but found his own hand “covered in blood,” realising in shock that he should remove Mr Beaudette’s girls from the tent.
“I noticed there was nothing in his eyes,” he said of his brother-in-law.
Mr Beaudette, a research scientist from Irvine, “was the last of 11 people Rauda was accused of shooting at over the course of two years,” the LA Times reported. In several instances, Rauda shot at moving vehicles or at campers in hammocks, wounding people on more than one occasion, prosecutors said.
“Most of the early attacks involved the use of what prosecutors described as an ‘improvised shotgun’ filled with pellets that did not cause anyone life-threatening injuries,” the paper reported, but the defendant “at some point upgraded to a sawed-off rifle, the weapon used in each of the counts he was convicted of Friday.”
Prosecutors said that Rauda sought to kill victims in creative ways during his spree.
“He’s actively trying to do something that you know would cause death when he researches how to blow up a car by shooting out a gas tank, and then you see that he shoots at a BMW,” LA County Deputy District Attorney Antonella Nistorescu said in closing arguments, according to the LA Times.
Rauda is due in court on 7 June for sentencing.
Mr Beaudette, who met his wife in high school, had been planning to move with his family to the Bay Area the week following the shooting. His widow, Erica Wu, filed a lawsuit against the sheriff’s department, State Parks and others following her husband’s murder, alleging authorities had failed to adequately warn the public at shootings in the area where Mr Beaudette was ultimately killed – but a judge in 2021 ruled against her.