Tuesday, September 28, 2021
Sept. 28, 2021

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Woman sentenced in Hockinson homicide

She gets 13 years for role in beating, fatal shooting of man

By , Columbian county government and small cities reporter

A woman was sentenced Monday to just over 13 years in prison for the 2017 beating and fatal shooting of a man in Hockinson.

Ashley Lorraine Barry, 33, pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter on Aug. 7 in Clark County Superior Court. The conviction stems from the death of Raymond C. Brandon, 34, whose body was found in a shed nearly a week after his death.

Barry and four co-defendants lured Brandon and his girlfriend, Allison Fields, to a residence at 15308 N.E. 172nd Ave. to settle a debt over a Subaru Forester he was driving, according to prosecutors.

Barry was originally charged with first-degree kidnapping and first-degree robbery. Clark County Deputy Prosecutor Lauren Boyd said during the plea hearing that Barry would have been charged with first- and second-degree murder had the case gone to trial.

John Michael West, 45, Neil Allen Alway, 41, and Ashley Wideman, 25, all transients, and Traci Lynn Mendez, 43, are the four additional co-defendants, court records show.

Brandon and Fields arrived at Mendez’s house on the morning of April 20, 2017, when they were ambushed by the group, according to an affidavit of probable cause. Following a chaotic confrontation, Alway and West led Brandon outside, where he was attacked and fatally shot in the chest, the affidavit said.

Barry helped keep Fields inside the home and prevented her from escaping or calling police, Boyd said at the plea hearing. Mendez then drove the group and Fields in her SUV to a farm off Northeast 119th Street, and Fields eventually escaped, according to court records.

A Vancouver police officer arrested Alway and Barry in a separate case, which was later dropped, five days after Brandon’s death. Alway was in possession of a black .40-caliber semi-automatic handgun, and a ballistics test linked the bullet retrieved from Brandon’s body to the gun, Boyd said.

Several of Brandon’s family members offered statements at Monday’s hearing. Fields did not speak.

Sara Brandon, his sister, said she lost her best friend. She remembered Brandon’s “contagious smile” and “warm hugs.”

“I could always count on him to be there for me,” she said.

She also called Barry an “unremorseful monster.” Along with Brandon’s aunt, Rita Brandon, she said Barry was not capable of rehabilitation.

“He no longer gets to go to parent-teacher conferences or holidays,” Rita Brandon said of her nephew, who had four children. “There’s not enough time you could give her to make this right.”

Judge Bernard Veljacic concurred.

“Quite a devastation to the family,” Veljacic said. “The court system is ill-equipped to restore people when they experience a loss this significant.”

The standard sentencing range for Barry’s conviction was between 10 years and just over 13 years in prison. While the prosecution recommended a 12-year sentence, Veljacic opted for the more severe punishment.

Barry’s agreement with prosecutors does not require her to testify in any other cases related to the incident.

West, Mendez and Wideman have entered into cooperation agreements with the prosecutor’s office that stipulate that they testify against their co-defendants. The prosecutor’s office is recommending sentences of about 18 years, 11 years and time served, respectively.

Their sentencings will take place after Alway’s trial, currently scheduled to begin Jan. 6.

Columbian county government and small cities reporter