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Tushar Atre murder: Case against one suspect in killing of Pleasure Point tech exec returns to court

More than three years after four suspects were charged in the murder of Pleasure Point tech entrepreneur Tushar Atre, the case of one of the defendants charged in Atre’s death, Stephen Lindsay, returns to a Santa Cruz County court Friday. His defense attorney is seeking to suppress evidence including surveillance footage and bank records, arguing that there was insufficient probable cause to support a search.

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The murder case of tech and cannabis executive Tushar Atre returns to Santa Cruz Superior Court next week, more than three years after four men were charged with killing the Pleasure Point entrepreneur in what investigators allege was a botched robbery.

The case of one of the defendants is set to be back in court on Thursday for a trial setting — a court date where the judge sets a case for trial dates. Also on Thursday, the court is expected to hear what is known as a Penal Code 1538.5 hearing, where the defense will ask the court to suppress some evidence.

On Oct. 1, 2019, investigators with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office found the 50-year-old Atre fatally shot and stabbed in the Santa Cruz Mountains near his cannabis farm on Soquel San Jose Road near the summit.

The four suspects — Stephen Lindsay, Kurtis Charters, Kaleb Charters and Joshua Camps — were arrested in May 2020 and charged with murder, kidnapping and robbery. At the time of the arrest, investigators said Lindsay and Kaleb Charters were former employees of Atre’s.

According to a filing with Santa Cruz Superior Court, Lindsay’s defense is asking the court to rule that documents and surveillance footage from a Las Vegas gym are inadmissible as evidence at trial. They are arguing there was insufficient probable cause to support a search and that a California court did not have the authority to issue a court order compelling a company located in Nevada to turn over evidence. Two of the suspects reportedly moved to Las Vegas following the murder.

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Defense attorneys are also seeking to quash evidence obtained through four search warrants issued between January and April 2020, as well as Lindsay’s bank records during a six-month period in 2019. The defense is also contesting the integrity of a Nov. 14, 2019, search warrant.

Atre was the chief executive of AtreNet, a web design and marketing firm, and also ran Interstitial Systems, a cannabis business.

The Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Office reported that Atre was kidnapped from his home in the 3000 block of Pleasure Point Drive just before 3 a.m. Oct. 1, 2019. He was last seen getting into his girlfriend’s white 2009 BMW SUV.

CBS News reported that a neighbor’s surveillance cameras showed three people leaving an alley on Pleasure Point and heading toward Atre’s waterfront house.

Guests staying with Atre said they heard voices asking about a safe, followed shortly by a commotion, but officers did not find signs of forced entry or ransacking. Investigators found $80,000 in a bedroom safe, but said the suspects had failed to open it. Additional surveillance footage showed Atre running down a street in his neighborhood with his hands bound.

Detectives traveled to Las Vegas to interview Kaleb Charters and Stephen Lindsay, who had previously worked for Atre. They admitted that they had a dispute with Atre over payments, but denied knowing who the figures on the surveillance footage were and also denied returning to Santa Cruz after they stopped working for Atre.

The trial is expected to begin in September.

FOR THE RECORD: This story was updated to reflect a new date for court hearings in the case.