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Monday, February 26, 2024
Feb. 26, 2024

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Co-defendant testifies in felony murder trial tied to Sgt. Jeremy Brown’s slaying

State crime scene investigator gives his analysis of shooting

By , Columbian staff reporter

A co-defendant in the slaying of Clark County sheriff’s Sgt. Jeremy Brown took the stand Monday to testify against the alleged getaway driver in the July 2021 shooting.

Lani Kraabell, 50, told the jury in Abran Raya Leon’s felony murder trial about her role in introducing his wife to a prospective buyer for a cache of allegedly stolen guns and ammunition. She said they were waiting on the buyer to show up when Abran Raya Leon’s brother, Guillermo Raya Leon, went to confront someone he believed was watching them and allegedly fatally shot Brown.

Although Abran Raya Leon, 30, didn’t pull the trigger, he is facing felony murder in Brown’s death as part of the alleged conspiracy to traffick stolen firearms. He is charged with second-degree murder, possession of a stolen firearm and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm in Clark County Superior Court.

Kraabell was also originally charged with second-degree murder and numerous firearms charges. But she pleaded guilty in June 2022 to second-degree manslaughter and was sentenced to six years in prison, in exchange for cooperating with the prosecution.

In addition to Abran Raya Leon, she is set to testify against his wife, Misty Raya, 37, who prosecutors say initiated the alleged trafficking scheme, and his brother, Guillermo Raya Leon, 28, the alleged shooter.

A crime scene investigator with the Washington State Patrol’s crime lab also testified Monday about his analysis of the shooting scene.

Steven Greenwood said he determined someone fired one shot into Brown’s unmarked, red Jeep through the driver’s side rear window. He testified that Brown must have been shot from behind and to the left.

Brown fired seven shots, Greenwood said, one through the open driver’s window toward the rear and six shots toward the passenger’s side rear. The investigator could not determine the sequence of the shots or Brown’s positioning when he was shot.

Alleged trafficking scheme

Kraabell testified she received a text from Misty Raya the morning of July 23, 2021, asking for a ride. Kraabell was staying with a friend at The Pointe Apartments in east Vancouver, she said, and borrowed the friend’s Toyota Sequoia to pick up the trio at a Portland Target.

When Kraabell arrived, Abran Raya Leon and Guillermo Raya Leon loaded luggage and bags from their car into the Sequoia, she said. At that point, Kraabell did not know there were guns inside the bags, she said.

She said the group had nowhere to go, so she brought them to the friend’s apartment while she helped them find a motel room. Earlier in the day, law enforcement had chased the trio from a motel near Castle Rock, according to prior trial testimony.

On their way to the apartment, Misty Raya asked Kraabell if she knew anyone who would buy guns. Kraabell told her she’d call a man named Charles Cooper, she testified.

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At the apartment, Kraabell’s friend needed her SUV back, so the brothers unloaded the bags and brought them inside. Kraabell said she talked to her friend about finding the trio a motel room while they waited for Cooper to arrive.

Kraabell described Guillermo Raya Leon as paranoid and that he believed they had been followed to the apartment. At one point, he looked out of the apartment’s back window and said there was someone inside a red Jeep.

She testified that Misty Raya told Guillermo Raya Leon to go check it out and handed him what appeared to be a gun from one of the bags. Abran Raya Leon was in the restroom at that time, Kraabell said.

A few minutes later, he came out of the restroom, Kraabell said, and at some point, he said they needed to go. She said she didn’t know why he and Misty Raya were suddenly in a hurry to leave. Misty Raya stopped to grab one of the bags before running out, Kraabell said.

Guillermo Raya Leon never came back inside the apartment, Kraabell testified, and she never heard gunshots. She said she didn’t learn a deputy had been shot until police interviewed her.

Kraabell said her friend’s partner, Stephen Iverson, was upset the trio had taken their SUV. In return, Iverson said he’d keep the bags they left behind until they returned the vehicle. When Iverson opened the bags, he discovered the cache of guns and ammunition, Kraabell testified.

Law enforcement searched the apartment later that day and seized thousands of rounds of ammunition, but officers did not find any guns.

Kraabell said Iverson had concealed the guns in an ottoman. When police didn’t find them, they continued the plan to sell them to Cooper, Kraabell said.

Iverson previously pleaded guilty to second-degree trafficking in stolen property and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. He has not yet been sentenced. Cooper is charged with first-degree trafficking in stolen property, second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and four counts of possession of a stolen firearm.

Abran Raya Leon’s trial is scheduled to continue Tuesday with more forensic scientists from the state crime lab and the Clark County medical examiner.