Jeffrey Brinkley, 34, appeared calm as the verdict was read. Jurors deliberated for a few hours after a three-day trial that relied heavily on the testimony of a drug dealer named "Dirty."
Brinkley faces life in prison when he is sentenced next week. He is expected to appeal Thursday's verdict.
Prosecutors alleged that Brinkley and his buddy Ethan Mattox turned the tables on a man coming to collect on a drug deal in December 2011. Kenny Easley, aka Dirty, told jurors he was knocked to the ground and hauled into the basement of a Marysville house. Once there, the armed men forced him to hand over his watch, wallet and the keys to his car.
Easley also told jurors that the duo made him strip down to his boxers to see if he was wearing a recording device. He said they also forced him to smoke methamphetamine to prove he wasn't a cop. Easley matter-of-factly informed jurors that he was a drug dealer, but explained that he'd given up smoking meth years ago as a business move.
Brinkley and Mattox were accused of pilfering a safe in Easley's car and helping themselves to $4,000, a 9 mm handgun and drugs. The men eventually forced Easley into his car, but not before making him move his child's car seat to the trunk. That's when Easley noticed that someone had put a roll of plastic sheeting in the trunk. Easley said he suspected that the men were going to drive him into the woods and kill him.
The men eventually dropped Easley off at a friend's house. They told him they'd be back.
Easley didn't wait for them. Instead, he called his boss, the drug supplier who had fronted him the meth and money. That call led to a home invasion robbery in Marysville as Easley and his boss tried to recover what was stolen. The retaliation went south after someone in the heavily armed crew mistook one of their own for a rival and blasted the man in the head with a shotgun, according to prosecutors. Patrick Buckmaster ended up in a shallow grave in east Snohomish County.
Brinkley and Mattox were charged in connection with Easley's robbery. Several other men were charged with crimes tied to the home invasion, including Johnathan "Bigfoot" Frohs who is expected to go to trial in June for Buckmaster's murder.
Easley pleaded guilty last year in federal court for his part in the home invasion robbery. He faces at least two decades in prison.
Everett defense attorney Mark Stephens attacked Easley's credibility, reminding jurors that Dirty has lied to police numerous times about what happened. Stephens said there was no reason to believe that Easley told the truth on the witness stand.
Stephens suggested it was possible that Easley made up the story of being robbed to cover with his boss, a violent man.
Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Katie Wetmore made no effort to pass Easley off as an upstanding citizen -- an impossibility after Easley testified wearing a bright orange jail uniform and shackles. Wetmore, however, reminded jurors that she didn't need to prove that Easley was a nice guy for them to convict Brinkley.
Meanwhile prosecutors on Thursday wrapped up their case against Ronald Brown, Easley's boss, who is on trial in another courtroom for his alleged role in the home invasion robbery. Jurors are expected to begin deliberations in that case Friday.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; email@example.com.
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