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Monday, October 25, 2021

Preliminary hearing begins in Santa Cruz tech entrepreneur kidnapping, killing

SANTA CRUZ – A lengthy court hearing to determine whether four people charged with the kidnapping and murder of a Santa Cruz tech entrepreneur will stand trial began on Tuesday.

Pleasure Point resident Tushar Atre, 50, was found dead from a gunshot wound in one of his country houses in the Santa Cruz mountains on October 1, 2019, hours after guests at his home reported that he had been kidnapped by several men before sunrise. Following reports of a verbal squabble at around 3 a.m., guests who were awakened by the argument said they heard two cars leaving, including a white BMW SUV owned by a friend of Atra, Santa Cruz County sheriffs deputies said on Tuesday.

Stephen Lindsey (left) confers with attorney Nicole Lambros as code defender Joshua Camps arrives at the courtroom of Santa Cruz County Superior Court Justice John Salazar during their August 2020 indictment. The two, along with brothers Curtis and Caleb Charters, are charged with the kidnapping and murder of Pleasure Point entrepreneur Tushar Atre on October 1, 2019. (Jessica A. York – Santa Cruz Sentinel Dossier)

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

Defendants Joshua Camps, Stephen Lindsey and brothers Curtis and Caleb Charters are brought before Santa Cruz County Superior Court Justice John Salazar in a preliminary hearing that is expected to last a week. Caleb Charters of St. Clair Shores, Michigan and Stephen Lindsay of Burbank were former employees of Atre’s Interstitial Systems.

Many of the lawyers’ questions on Tuesday focused on interviews with Atre’s partner investigators, who spoke of the numerous negative interactions he had with several employees. Santa Cruz County Deputy District Attorney Tara George assigned one Deputy Attorney five different firearms and a blue sedan – similar to the car seen in the videotapes behind a gas station – found at the Camps home. CCTV footage outside the Atre Pinje Point home showed three men – one with a rifle – in the neighborhood at the time of the reported abduction.

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