Two guilty in shooting of police officer

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

Published:

 

Two Portland men were found guilty Tuesday afternoon of all charges relating to a home-invasion robbery and subsequent shooting of a Vancouver police sergeant in April 2009.

The panel of eight men and four women deliberated five hours over two days before rendering a verdict at 1:30 p.m., convicting Jeffery S. Reed, 27, and Daylan E. Berg, 23, of first-degree attempted murder, first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary, first-degree kidnapping and intimidating a witness.

In addition, Reed was found guilty of a sixth charge of unlawful possession of a firearm for being a convicted felon carrying a pistol.

At first, Berg and Reed showed no emotion as Superior Court Judge Robert Lewis read the verdicts. But they started snickering once a newspaper photographer snapped photos.

As the handcuffed co-defendants were escorted from the courtroom, Berg bowed to the audience while Reed smirked and waved at the camera.

Sentencing was set for July 19.

First-degree attempted murder carries a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison. But the two will face considerably more time because of five-year weapon enhancements on each of the charges, excluding the intimidating a witness charge. The men’s prior criminal history also will potentially boost the sentencing range.

Before hearing the verdict, the defendants seemed to already know their fate. Seated at a courtroom table waiting for the jury, Berg asked his attorney, Jeff Sowder, about the appeal process.

Reed also was overheard alluding to defense attorney Mike Foister’s closing argument. Friday, the attorney had told the jury Reed was guilty of all but the charges relating to the shooting of Vancouver police Sgt. Jay Alie.

“I’m sure Mr. Reed didn’t know that was going to happen,” Sowder said to the defendants.

“No, I sure did not know that was going to happen,” Reed said.

During the two-week trial, jurors heard that the men had targeted a home in the 7500 block of Delaware Lane after they learned the resident, Albert Watts, was growing medical marijuana for a back disability.

The evening of April 13, 2009, the two kicked in the door of the garage and ordered Watts to the ground with a.40-caliber pistol.

Berg held Watts face down as Reed stole the man’s marijuana plants, flat-screen TV, cell phone and wallet. Before leaving, they threatened to kill him if he notified police.

Instead, a neighbor called 911 and reported seeing intruders carrying items out of the home, jurors were told.

In the area, Alie saw a white Kia Spectra — which matched the description of the suspects’ vehicle — whiz past. He followed, stopping their car on Carolina Lane.

When he approached the Spectra, the driver, Reed, lunged forward as Berg, seated in the front seat, turned and pointed a semiautomatic pistol and fired one round at the officer.

Alie was struck in the chest but was wearing a ballistic vest and suffered only minor injuries.

Sowder had contended there was no eyewitness evidence of Berg’s guilt. He also questioned the validity of the state’s two firearms experts, who had testified the gun found on Berg matched the round fired at Alie.

Foister, who made very little argument during the two-week trial, said in closing arguments that Reed was responsible for the robbery but did not know his passenger was going to shoot Alie, and, therefore, should be acquitted of the attempted murder charge.

However, Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Denny Hunter argued that Reed’s body language showed he was part of the plan to shoot Alie. He avoided eye contact with the officer before an exaggerated lurch forward. As for Berg, Hunter said, there was clear circumstantial evidence linking him to the crimes.

After sentencing, Alie, who was unable to attend the verdict reading, wished to make a statement.

“I would like to thank the courageous citizens who came forward as witnesses, the excellent police work on both sides of the river, and all parties in the courtroom,” he said by e-mail. “Frustrating as it can be sometimes, this is the system we live under, and it takes individuals diligently filling all roles, jury, judge, defense and prosecution, to make it work.”

Laura McVicker: 360-735-4516 or laura.mcvicker@columbian.com.