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Tyler Beerman, a onetime Santa Barbara kombucha maker and vegan restaurant owner, was sentenced to eight years and four months for stalking an ex-girlfriend, offering to pay several jail inmates to kill two sheriff’s investigators and a county judge, and intimidating a witness.
Beerman — who has been held in solitary confinement the better part of the last year — pleaded guilty before his preliminary hearing to lesser charges that carried considerably fewer years behind bars. Initially, Beerman was looking at 44 years to life for charges of conspiracy to commit murder. Ultimately, the conspiracy charges were dropped because prosecutor Benjamin Ladinig could not demonstrate any of the individuals Beerman solicited actually intended to murder any of the people Beerman wanted killed.
The evidence indicated that one thought he was merely going to blow up the car owned by one of Beerman’s ex-girlfriends, not that she would be in it at the time. Others had hoped to take advantage of Beerman financially, promising to do things they had no intention of carrying out. Without a coconspirator, Ladinig conceded, it would have been hard to persuade a jury of 12 Santa Barbarans to find Beerman guilty of conspiracy.
Beerman’s case was exceptional in that he not only sought to do violence to his ex-girlfriend but also stalked Lt. Brad Welch, a 20-year veteran of the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s office, showing up at Welch’s Ventura County home late one night in November 2017. By that time, Welch had grown so concerned about Beerman that he’d taken to evasive maneuvers on his drive home from work. Beerman reportedly enlisted other inmates to help burn down the home of Detective Anthony Kouremetis.
Beerman’s attorney, Sanford Horowitz, had maintained his client had a history of mental illness stemming from a 2012 car accident in which Beerman sustained a serious head injury. He’d been declared 5150 — a danger to himself or to others — at least three times, he noted. His entreaties to commit mayhem — caught on tape — were the product of a mentally disordered mind, he’d argued. Horowitz described the mental-health treatment Beerman has received in county jail as “dismal.” Ladinig dismissed such mental health arguments, suggesting Beerman’s underlying problem was one of excessive entitlement.