A Vancouver man was sentenced Wednesday to nearly eight years in prison for shooting another man in the torso while confronting him about damage to his car.
Aaron W. Baxter, 34, pleaded guilty to first-degree assault in Clark County Superior Court. As part of his plea agreement, the prosecution dismissed a five-year firearm enhancement and recommended the low end of Baxter’s sentencing range of 93 to 123 months. Additionally, Baxter will serve 36 months of community custody.
Senior Deputy Prosecutor Dan Gasperino said he amended the charge because of Baxter’s lack of criminal history, and the victim was uncooperative with investigators and the prosecution.
“I just want to be able to move on with my life and better myself,” Baxter told the judge before he was sentenced. He described the shooting as a “grave mistake.”
The incident was reported at 4:23 p.m. Nov. 8, 2022, in the 7600 block of Northeast Fourth Plain Boulevard, east of Northeast Andresen Road. Responding Vancouver police officers found a car in the ditch, according to a police news release. The driver, identified in court records as Richard Rayner, then 38, had been shot in the torso, causing the car to crash. Rayner was taken to a hospital for treatment, police said.
Court records indicate Baxter and his girlfriend were seen on surveillance video leaving the SeaMar apartment building at 7803 N.E. Fourth Plain Blvd., and walking toward a car occupied by Rayner.
A witness reported hearing Baxter or his girlfriend say something like, “Let’s go do this,” while walking toward Rayner’s car. A short time later, the witness heard a gunshot and saw Baxter and the woman run back to the apartment building, according to a probable cause affidavit.
The witness told police she saw Baxter had an extended magazine for a handgun sticking out of his pants. She also said she heard someone shout from a window at the SeaMar apartments, “Did you get him?” Then, she heard someone reply, “Yeah,” court records state.
Officers said Baxter’s girlfriend told them she and Baxter confronted Rayner in the parking lot because he’d damaged their vehicle the day before, according to court records.
When officers searched Baxter’s apartment, they found ammunition and other firearms-related items. They also found a gun outside of the apartment, which Baxter’s girlfriend claimed was hers, the affidavit states.