Southern California man sentenced for killing friend with sledgehammer

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

A man from Ojai has been sentenced to 18 years in federal prison for the 2019 slaying of his friend.

Authorities say 28-year-old Cameron Scott Lykins killed Houston Auer on May 12, 2019, at Auer’s grandmother’s home on the 1100 block of Meyer Road in Ojai.

Lykins and Auer got into an altercation in a bedroom of the home, which led to Lykins using a sledgehammer to bludgeon Auer to death.

Following the killing, Lykins dragged Auer’s body out of a window and dumped the victim’s remains in the Angeles National Forest.

Lykins then went to his mother’s home in Lone Pine, where he arranged to contact authorities and admit to the crime.

Ventura County Sheriff’s Department deputies arrested Lykins a day later and he was charged with Auer’s murder. The victim’s body was located in the Angeles National Forest by a warden with the Department of Fish and Wildlife more than a month later on June 23, 2019.

A Nissan Frontier that investigators believe was used to transport a homicide victim’s body is seen in photos released May 14, 2019, by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office.Cameron Scott Lykins pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter for the 2019 killing of his friend and roommate in Ojai. Lykins entered the plea on April 19, 2024. (Ventura County Sheriff’s Office)

Testimony at Lykins’ first trial began on Feb. 1. After 26 prosecution witnesses provided eight days of testimony, a mistrial was declared due to the inadvertent admission of evidence before a ruling on its admissibility.

The case was set for a retrial and both sides said they uncovered new evidence before the second trial began. Some of the information that was discovered challenged the evidence prosecutors originally had when it came to the motive for the crime.

Prosecutors found both verbal and text message exchanges between Lykins and Auer leading up to the killing that they felt would make it difficult to prove malice for a murder charge.

Because of this new evidence, prosecutors added a charge of voluntary manslaughter, and Lykins agreed to plead guilty to the lesser charge.

“The true tragedy of this case is that Houston Auer is gone, and nothing can bring him back,” Ventura County Senior Deputy District Attorney Christopher Harman said. “Today’s sentencing holds the defendant accountable for what the people could prove and will keep him off the street for a significant amount of time.”

Lykins previously pled guilty on April 19, 2024, to one count of voluntary manslaughter. 

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.