It took less than a day of deliberating for a jury to convict Guillermo Raya Leon of murder for the fatal shooting of a Clark County Sheriff’s deputy during an erratic, 2021 gun heist.
Following a two-week trial, the jury spent roughly five hours Monday reviewing the case before finding Raya Leon, 28, guilty of murder and several other counts related to the incident that resulted in undercover deputy Sgt. Jeremy Brown’s death.
The verdict indicates jurors agreed with the argument proffered by Clark County’s team of prosecutors: that Raya Leon intentionally ambushed Brown.
Raya Leon wore a white button-down shirt and tie as Clark County Superior Court Judge Derek Vanderwood led jurors through their verdict. He stood stoically as the guilty verdicts appeared one after the other.
Jurors also convicted him of trafficking and possessing stolen guns, burglary and stealing a car the night of the killing. Shortly after the verdict, four corrections deputies led him out of the room in handcuffs.
Brown’s widow, Jill Brown, hugged friends and family who piled into the benches on the prosecution’s side of the courtroom. Jill Brown declined to comment.
Once corrections deputies had escorted Raya Leon out, one person thanked the prosecution team and clapped. Clark County Sheriff John Horch described the verdict as bittersweet.
“It doesn’t bring our friend back but justice was served,” Horch said. He thanked the prosecutors and the jurors.
Raya Leon, along with his brother and brother’s wife, had come in 2021 to possess a cache of guns stolen from a storage unit outside Vancouver. They soon became the subject of a lengthy undercover investigation by several agencies in Portland and Southwest Washington.
On July 23, 2021, Clark County detectives tracked Raya Leon’s sister-in-law, Misty May Raya, to Castle Rock, Washington, where she was with her husband and Raya Leon. The detectives followed them south through Clark County and into a shopping center on Hayden Island.
The teams followed the trio, ultimately, to The Pointe apartment complex in east Vancouver.
Prosecutors described Raya Leon as correctly identifying that they were being followed, even though his two cohorts disagreed. While at the apartments, Raya Leon grabbed a revolver and crept around the complex toward the SUV that Brown had parked.
During the trial, Raya Leon’s attorneys didn’t try to downplay most of the charges. Instead, they honed in on the murder charges and laid out a claim of self-defense. A ballistics expert they called as a witness opined that Brown first opened fire. The prosecutor’s own expert disagreed, The Columbian newspaper reported.
After the gunfire exchange, Brown died of his wounds and Raya Leon sped off in a car driven by his brother. The car crashed about a mile away. Police there arrested Raya Leon’s brother and sister-in-law. Raya Leon was caught in Salem the next day.
In August, a jury found Raya Leon’s brother, Abran Raya Leon, guilty of second-degree murder, possession of a stolen firearm and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. He’s since been sentenced to 27 years in prison.
His wife, Misty May Raya, is slated to go to trial Oct. 9. She faces a slew of charges including second-degree murder, theft, burglary and more than two dozen counts of theft of a firearm.
After the verdict, Clark County Prosecutor Tony Golik mostly declined to discuss the case. He cited Misty May Raya’s upcoming trial.
“Our office thanks the jury for their service on this important case,” he said. “Due to the fact that an alleged co-conspirator is pending trial, our office will not comment until that case is also complete.”