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Woman in stolen firearms trafficking scheme in connection with Sgt. Jeremy Brown’s shooting sentenced

Lani Kraabell sentenced to 6 years in prison

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:
3 Photos
Lani Kraabell exits the courtroom after pleading guilty to second-degree manslaughter Friday afternoon at the Clark County Courthouse, in connection with sheriff's Sgt. Jeremy Brown's shooting.
Lani Kraabell exits the courtroom after pleading guilty to second-degree manslaughter Friday afternoon at the Clark County Courthouse, in connection with sheriff's Sgt. Jeremy Brown's shooting. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

In front of a courtroom packed with uniformed law enforcement officers and others in memorial sweatshirts, a woman was sentenced Friday to six years in prison for her role in the July shooting death of Clark County sheriff’s Sgt. Jeremy Brown.

Lani Kraabell looked at Jill Brown, with tears in her eyes, and apologized for her involvement in her husband’s slaying last summer.

Investigators say Kraabell was helping her friend, Misty Raya, find buyers for dozens of stolen firearms when Jeremy Brown was killed by Raya’s brother-in-law, Guillermo Raya Leon.

Kraabell, 49, whose last known address was in Winlock, pleaded guilty in Clark County Superior Court to second-degree manslaughter by way of an “in re Barr” plea, meaning she pleaded guilty to the lesser related charge she didn’t commit to avoid the risk of conviction on a greater offense. She was originally charged with second-degree murder, four counts of possession of a stolen firearm and one count of second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

Kraabell’s plea was pursuant to a cooperation agreement; she must participate in interviews and testify against her co-defendants, also charged in Jeremy Brown’s death, if they go to trial.

Her defense attorney, Renee Alsept, said Kraabell was moved to the Skamania County Jail to ensure she can’t be threatened or harmed. She said Kraabell has already been cooperative, including participating in a three-hour interview with prosecutors Thursday.

Prosecutor Tony Golik said that if Kraabell stops cooperating, her guilty plea could be revoked.

According to court records, Raya, 36, is accused of breaking into a Hazel Dell storage unit in early June 2021 and stealing dozens of guns — including an AK-47 semiautomatic rifle — along with 20,000 to 30,000 rounds of ammunition.

Jeremy Brown, 46, was working undercover, surveilling Raya, her husband, Abran Raya Leon, and Guillermo Raya Leon, on July 23 at an east Vancouver apartment complex in connection with the stolen firearms. Kraabell had picked up the trio and taken them to an apartment there, court records state.

Authorities say Guillermo Raya Leon, 27, confronted Jeremy Brown in the parking lot before shooting the detective. Abran Raya Leon, 28, is accused of driving the getaway vehicle.

‘Everybody loses’

On Friday, Judge David Gregerson followed Kraabell’s agreed-upon sentencing recommendation, which was higher than the standard range of 31 to 41 months.

“Clearly this sticks out in the mind of not only the court, but the community. It was really quite an alarming event last summer,” Gregerson said. “Frankly, it’s amazing that more people did not get hurt or killed under the circumstances.”

Jill Brown told Gregerson her family — including five children and seven grandchildren, with another on the way — has not been the same since her husband’s death.

“There is no way to appropriately convey what has been taken from us,” she said. “Not one thing remains the same except the place that I live.”

She told the judge her husband’s life is worth more than six years.

“I understand that the defendant did not physically take my husband’s life,” she said. “But I am here today asking you to consider their integral role in the events leading up to Jeremy’s murder.”

Kraabell said she had no idea that Guillermo Raya Leon was going to shoot Jeremy Brown or that they were being surveilled.

“Saying sorry can’t mean anything to them,” Kraabell said. “But I apologize. If I could change it, I would. I didn’t know anybody was going to get hurt.”

Kraabell became choked up as she looked at Jill Brown and wiped away tears.

“It’s a loss, and it’s a big one,” she said of Jeremy Brown’s death. “And everybody loses, not just one person, everybody, including me.”

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