Preliminary hearing begins in Santa Cruz tech entrepreneur killing – Santa Cruz Sentinel

SANTA CRUZ — A lengthy court hearing designed to determine if four men charged with kidnapping and killing a Santa Cruz tech entrepreneur will face trial launched Tuesday.

Pleasure Point resident Tushar Atre, 50, was found dead of a gunshot wound on one of his rural Santa Cruz Mountains properties Oct. 1, 2019, hours after guests at his home reported that he had been kidnapped by multiple men before sunrise. After a reported verbal altercation around 3 a.m., the guests — who were woken from sleeping by the argument — said they heard two vehicles leave, including a white BMW SUV owned by Atre’s girlfriend, Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office deputies testified Tuesday.

Stephen Lindsay, left, confers with defense attorney Nicole Lambros as codefendent Joshua Camps arrives in the courtroom of Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge John Salazar during their August 2020 arraignment. The two, along with brothers Kurtis and Kaleb Charters, are accused of the Oct. 1, 2019 kidnapping-murder case of Pleasure Point entrepreneur Tushar Atre. (Jessica A. York — Santa Cruz Sentinel file)

Atre was the CEO of web-design company AtreNet, which he founded in 1996. He also was the owner of Interstitial Systems, a Santa Cruz-based licensed cannabis manufacturer.

Defendants Joshua Camps, Stephen Lindsey and brothers Kurtis and Kaleb Charters appeared before Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge John Salazar for what is expected to be a week-long preliminary hearing. Kaleb Charters, of St. Clair Shores, Michigan, and Stephen Lindsay, of Burbank, were both former employees of Atre’s Interstitial Systems.

Much of defense attorneys’ questions Tuesday focused on investigators’ interviews of Atre’s associates, who shared numerous negative interactions he had with several employees. Santa Cruz County Chief Deputy District Attorney Tara George had one deputy detail five different firearms and a blue sedan — similar to a vehicle seen in gas station surveillance footage — found at the home of Camps. Surveillance footage from near Atre’s Pleasure Point home showed three men — one carrying a rifle — in the neighborhood at the reported time of the kidnapping.

Preliminary hearing begins in Santa Cruz tech entrepreneur killing

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