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Driver in fatal shooting of Wash. deputy gets 27 years

Abran Raya Leon drove the getaway car in a stolen firearms trafficking scheme that led to the fatal shooting of Clark County sheriff’s Sgt. Jeremy Brown

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In handing down his sentence, Clark County Superior Court Judge David Gregerson said the shooting was “one of the saddest incidents I can recall in nearly 11 years on the bench.”

By Becca Robbins
The Columbian

VANCOUVER, Wash. — A judge on Thursday sentenced the getaway driver in the July 2021 fatal shooting of Clark County Sheriff’s Sgt. Jeremy Brown to more than 27 years in prison.

In handing down his sentence, Clark County Superior Court Judge David Gregerson said the shooting was “one of the saddest incidents I can recall in nearly 11 years on the bench.”

Two weeks ago, a jury found Abran Raya Leon, 30, guilty of second-degree murder, possession of a stolen firearm and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. Although he didn’t pull the trigger, he was convicted of felony murder in Brown’s death as part of an alleged conspiracy to traffick dozens of stolen firearms.

Prosecutors say his brother, Guillermo Raya Leon, 28, was the shooter and that Abran Raya Leon’s wife, Misty Raya, initiated the trafficking scheme. Guillermo Raya Leon is scheduled for trial Tuesday, and Misty Raya is scheduled for trial Oct. 9.

Gregerson described the scheme as “one of the most dangerous enterprises this court can contemplate.”

“Looking at the spectrum of possible crimes in the state of Washington, this is not bootleg cigarettes, this is not stolen catalytic converters, these are serious firearms — killing machines — incredible amounts of ammunition, almost certainly destined for the hands of people who are probably some of the most dangerous in our community,” Gregerson said.

“So when you calculate the death potential of what was at risk here and the involvement and sophistication of the planning, to pull off the theft and the burglary, and then to attempt to fence these items, it certainly has to be considered by this court at the most extreme end of culpable conduct.”

Behind the prosecutors’ table, the gallery was packed with sheriff’s office employees, in uniform and plainclothes. People embraced and shook hands after the sentence was announced.

Several speakers, including Brown’s widow, Jill Brown; his sister, Jules Savolainen; co-workers, sheriff’s Sgt. Bill Sofianos, Deputy Chris Pizan and Sheriff John Horch, asked Gregerson to impose the maximum sentence allowed.

“Jeremy was an exceptional human, truly exceptional in every way,” Jill Brown said. “Each of us that knew and loved him are not only grieving his absence and trying to make sense of his murder, but we are also mourning who we were, as people, as a family, before that day.”

Jill Brown said although the jury’s verdict and judge’s sentence “may bring some peace and a sense of gratitude that our legal system did not fail Jeremy, it does not change anything for me — for most of us. It does not offer closure.”

Horch spoke about learning that Jeremy Brown had been shot. He said many at the sheriff’s office continue to struggle with Brown’s death.

“There are law enforcement officers in this courtroom today who will forever live with the memories and regret of being unable to save Jeremy,” Horch said. “They will live with the horror of the crime scene and the devastation of watching their friend’s life slip away.”

Abran Raya Leon apologized to the Brown family.

“To the wife, I’m sorry for the loss of what I know was a loved man. If I knew I was going to be a part of something so horrible, I would’ve stayed home,” he said. “In the end, these are just words and can’t bring back your husband and father. I hope you believe me when I say, I am deeply, deeply sorry.”

After the verdict, Horch thanked the judge, and he said the sentence — which was the high end of Abran Raya Leon’s range — sends a clear message of accountability.

“That person now has to be at least 27 years behind bars, and he’ll not be able to affect anyone else,” Horch said. “I do believe justice was served. Do I wish it could be more? Yeah. But that’s our system.”

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