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The Chronicle

No 'loose ends': Winlock woman testifies in trial of man accused of killing plainclothes detective in SW Washington


The friend of the man on trial in the fatal shooting of an undercover Clark County sheriff’s sergeant offered an unexpected counter to his claim of self-defense during the closely-watched trial this week.

Lani Kraabell, convicted earlier as an accomplice in the 2021 shooting, testified Thursday that another member of the alleged gun-running crew handed a revolver to Guillermo Raya Leon, told him to approach the man they suspected was a police officer following them and issued a grim instruction: “Don’t leave any loose ends.”

Kraabell’s last known address was in Winlock, according to previous reporting.

Defense attorneys acknowledged during opening trial statements that Raya Leon shot Sgt. Jeremy Brown, but they contend the plainclothes detective fired first and Raya Leon was defending himself.

Brown, 46, was one of three investigators staking out the Avana One Zero Nine apartment complex on Northeast 109th Avenue in Vancouver when he was shot in the left arm and upper chest just before 7 p.m. on July 23, 2021.

Authorities say they were tracking Raya Leon, his brother and his brother’s wife after the trio allegedly stole a cache of rifles and more than 30,000 rounds of ammunition from a Vancouver storage unit over three days the previous month.

The group had allegedly evaded authorities trying to arrest them in the gun investigation after a high-speed chase on Interstate 5 earlier July 23 and then got Kraabell to drive them from Portland to the Vancouver apartment, according to The Columbian.

Kraabell is serving a six-year sentence for second-degree manslaughter for her role in the killing after she agreed to testify against the others, the newspaper reported.

During cross-examination, defense attorney Therese Lavallee said Kraabell had never before mentioned seeing Raya Leon’s sister-in-law, Misty Raya, handing him a gun or uttering such a dark command until she suddenly recalled it on the witness stand.

“I remembered it,” Kraabell replied. “I don’t know about suddenly. You’re putting words in.”

Kraabell, wearing a blue jail tunic, said at the time of the shooting she didn’t know why Raya Leon, his brother and his brother’s wife jumped into her SUV and sped off, leaving her behind.

In separate testimony, Vancouver Detective Rodrigo Osorio said he heard two separate volleys that he initially assumed were fireworks just before the SUV he was watching sped off. Osorio said he became alarmed when Brown, who was sitting alone in his own unmarked SUV, didn’t respond to messages.

During trial testimony Wednesday, a Washington state trooper told the Clark County Superior Court jury he took up the pursuit of the silver Toyota Sequoia, which crashed into the brush surrounding an Interstate 205 on-ramp near Padden Parkway.

Another woman testified that she started screaming after seeing two men and a woman enter her backyard, which faces the on-ramp, and run into the neighborhood. And a Vancouver police officer testified that his dog picked up the scent and found Misty Raya and her husband hiding in a bush on Northeast 76nd Avenue.

Raya Leon, however, managed to evade capture by stealing a resident’s Prius, investigators testified during the trial, but was tracked down and arrested in Salem two days later.

He is accused of first-degree aggravated murder and faces a minimum of 25 years behind bars, if convicted. His trial began last week and is expected to go for another two weeks.

His brother, Abran Raya Leon, was convicted of driving the Sequoia getaway car after Brown’s shooting and was sentenced to 27 years in prison in August during a trial in which he did not testify. Misty Raya remains in custody pending trial.

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