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News / Clark County News

Raya Leon guilty of first-degree murder in fatal shooting of Clark County sheriff’s Sgt. Jeremy Brown

After four-week trial, Salem, Ore., man convicted in 2021 death

By Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: September 26, 2023, 3:35pm
12 Photos
Jill Brown, wife of Clark County sheriff’s Sgt. Jeremy Brown, closes her eyes and listens while Clark County Superior Court Judge Derek Vanderwood reads the jury’s verdict Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023, at Clark County Courthouse. Raya Leon was found guilty on all counts.
Jill Brown, wife of Clark County sheriff’s Sgt. Jeremy Brown, closes her eyes and listens while Clark County Superior Court Judge Derek Vanderwood reads the jury’s verdict Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023, at Clark County Courthouse. Raya Leon was found guilty on all counts. (Taylor Balkom/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

A jury on Tuesday convicted a Salem, Ore., man of aggravated first-degree murder in the 2021 fatal shooting of Clark County sheriff’s Sgt. Jeremy Brown.

The Clark County Superior Court jury also convicted Guillermo Raya Leon, 28, of first-degree trafficking in stolen property, first-degree burglary, theft of a motor vehicle and two counts of possession of a stolen firearm.

Raya Leon stared straight ahead, with a defense attorney on either side of him, while Judge Derek Vanderwood read the guilty verdicts on all six counts. The jury also found in favor of the aggravating factor that Raya Leon knew Brown was a law enforcement officer, along with a firearm enhancement on four of the counts.

Raya Leon is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 5. Aggravated murder carries a mandatory minimum of life in prison.

After the jury left the courtroom, the Brown family and supporters gave the prosecution a round of applause. They embraced and shook hands with the three prosecutors.

Clark County Prosecutor Tony Golik thanked the group for being present throughout the trial. He reminded them to be prepared for an emotional sentencing hearing.

Defense attorney Therese Lavallee thanked jurors for their time and attention during the lengthy trial that entered its fourth week. She said she respects their decision.

Outside the courtroom, Clark County Sheriff John Horch said he was pleased with the convictions. Still, he said they don’t bring Brown back.

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“It’s still a very sad day,” Horch said. “You see a lot of tears here. But justice was served.”

Brown’s widow, Jill Brown, embraced jurors outside the courtroom and thanked them.

Two jurors, who wished to remain anonymous, said they heard a lot of information over the weeks of trial, and it was difficult at times to make sense of it.

They felt the 10 women and two men on the jury were largely on the same page at the start of deliberations Tuesday morning. After some discussion, those who weren’t sure were fairly quick to agree to convict, they said.

It was tough to see Jeremy Brown’s loved ones each day in the courtroom, they added.

Raya Leon shot Brown on July 23, 2021, as the detective conducted surveillance in his unmarked Jeep SUV at an east Vancouver apartment complex. Law enforcement officers from several agencies were watching Raya Leon, his brother and his brother’s wife as part of an investigation into stolen firearms.

He claimed self-defense in the shooting.

Raya Leon’s defense attorney didn’t contest many of the charges during closing arguments Monday afternoon. But the attorney argued Raya Leon did not intend to shoot the detective, only to confirm if he was watching the trio.

Prosecutors said Raya Leon knew Brown was an officer and took time to think things over before arming himself and confronting the detective. They said Raya Leon snuck up on Brown and shot him from behind.

A jury convicted Raya Leon’s brother, Abran Raya Leon, 30, last month of second-degree murder, possession of a stolen firearm and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. He was the getaway driver in the shooting, and a judge sentenced him to 27 years in prison.

Trial for Abran Raya Leon’s wife, Misty Raya, 37, who is accused of initiating the firearms trafficking scheme, is scheduled to start Oct. 9.

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