Vancouver man found guilty of robbing teens

He faces separate trial in late July, another in August

By Jessica Prokop, Columbian Courts Reporter

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Jurors on Thursday found a Vancouver man guilty of robbing two teens of a designer belt and some other items by using a stolen firearm.

The jury deliberated for about 2 1/2 hours before handing down its verdicts to Cocaya S. Thomas. He was convicted of two counts of first-degree robbery with a firearm enhancement on each and possession of a stolen firearm.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Kasey Vu said Thomas faces 14 to 15 years in prison.

Sentencing in Clark County Superior Court was tentatively set for July 24, the date of Thomas’ trial in another alleged robbery. He has a third trial set in August in an alleged shooting. Between the two pending cases, the 20-year-old is facing charges of first-degree robbery, attempted second-degree murder, first-degree assault and two counts of possession of a stolen firearm.

In the pending cases, Thomas is accused of robbing a 17-year-old boy of a firearm, which he then allegedly used in the Aug. 12 belt robbery and during an Aug. 16 altercation with a man that resulted in shots being fired, court records show.

Case chronology

The alleged series of crimes began sometime in early August when Thomas met with the 17-year-old boy in a parking lot at Northeast Highway 99 and 63rd Street to purchase a .380-caliber revolver. During the exchange, Thomas brandished another firearm and took the revolver without paying, the affidavit states.

On Aug. 12, he went with 17-year-old Raymond E. Mason to rob two 16-year-olds of the designer belt at a residence in the 6300 block of Northeast Hazel Dell Avenue.

A witness at the home told authorities that Mason and Thomas, whom he knows, came over to buy the belt. But Thomas pulled out a revolver and pointed it at one of the teens, and Mason, who already had the belt, told them to strip. Thomas ordered them to turn around and put their hands on the wall, according to court records and trial testimony. One of the victims told officers that Mason also had a pistol in the waistband of his pants.

Vu said during Thomas’ trial that the robbers fled with the belt, two cellphones and two hats.

During closing arguments, Thomas’ attorney, Jeff Sowder, questioned some of the witnesses’ credibility, because they were offered plea deals for testifying against Thomas or reductions in their sentences.

Mason was called to testify against Thomas but tried to invoke his Fifth Amendment right to protect against self incrimination. The judge informed him he couldn’t plead the Fifth because he had already pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery and had been sentenced to 32 months in prison, plus 18 months of community custody. However, Mason refused to answer questions and was held in contempt, Vu said.