Both the defense and prosecution agree about who pulled the trigger and which getaway car was used in the November 2015 shooting death of a precious metals dealer at a downtown Vancouver shop. From there, closing arguments Monday in a Renton man’s murder trial centered on whether he was driving the getaway car and how much he facilitated the shooting.
Jurors will begin to deliberate the answers to those questions Tuesday.
Thomas Phillip Leae, 25, is charged with murder, robbery and rendering criminal assistance, all in the first degree, in the Nov. 25, 2015, death of Bentley Brookes, 58, of Camas. The shooting took place at Brookes’ place of work — Pacific Bullion Precious Metals, 701 Main St.
Leae’s girlfriend — Ailiana Siufanua, 18, of Des Moines — shot Brookes in the face while robbing the shop. Following the shooting, Siufanua and Leae fled. They were spotted five days later, driving a stolen Honda Civic on Interstate 5 in Glenn County, Calif., by a California Highway Patrol officer.
At the end of a 40-mile, high-speed pursuit, the stolen car left the road and struck a tree, according to The Davis (Calif.) Enterprise. Siufanua died in the crash; Leae broke a leg.
Surveillance footage of the robbery revealed that a woman, later identified as Siufanua, shot Brookes, then shoveled coins and random valuables from the store’s display cases into a bag and pocketed cash from a drawer before fleeing.