Man sentenced for Everett drug deal that ended in shooting

Brian Wingender, 23, is headed to prison after being taken into custody at Thursday’s hearing.

EVERETT — Brian Wingender made one bad decision after another.

After being robbed in South America, he bought a firearm.

He started self-medicating with anti-anxiety pills from the black market. He dealt marijuana.

Then, on March 13, 2017, he chose to go into Everett, armed, “in the middle of the night,” to sell two pounds of pot, a Snohomish County judge said Thursday. The drug deal ended in a fatal shooting.

Though Wingender, now 23, makes a reasonable argument that he fired in self-defense, his decisions led him into the confrontation, Judge Anthony Howard said. Wingender was “defending himself and those drugs,” and it resulted in the loss of a life, the judge said.

“This case is so tragic in so many ways,” he said.

Howard sentenced Wingender to nearly four years behind bars. The punishment had been recommended by both prosecutors and the defense. Wingender is likely to serve three of those years, based on how prison time is calculated. He pleaded guilty in April to possessing drugs with the intent to deliver them. His sentence included 18 months for bringing a weapon.

Wingender and Dustin Bradshaw met two other young men to sell them drugs near Clark Park.

Francisco Vazquez, then 17, and John Muhlstein, 18, had other plans. They tried to rob Wingender and Bradshaw.

Wingender later told police he was pistol-whipped before running from the car, carrying the bag of marijuana.

He said that Muhlstein, who also was armed, chased him. Wingender shot Vazquez, who survived, and Muhlstein, who died from his injuries.

Vazquez, a gang member with extensive criminal history, was prosecuted as an adult. He was convicted of first-degree robbery and sentenced to more than five years.

Bradshaw, now 23, of Bothell, was sentenced in April to just under two years for an unrelated drive-by shooting in King County. His time for the Everett offense was ordered to be served concurrently.

On Thursday, defense attorney Eric Lindell said Wingender carried his firearm as a “security blanket” to reduce his anxiety. He said Wingender, who lives in Kenmore, had mental health issues as a result of being robbed before and was paranoid about his safety.

That doesn’t make sense for someone who was dealing drugs, Howard said.

Counseling would have been a better option than taking pills without a prescription, the judge said.

“You were struggling,” he said. “You chose to arm yourself, and with that choice comes profound responsibility.”

In court papers, Wingender maintained he didn’t believe himself guilty as charged, but acknowledged that he likely would be convicted based on the evidence. He spoke briefly in court Thursday, saying “I’m sorry.”

“I would do anything to go back and change the outcome,” he said.

Wingender had remained free on bail after his initial court hearing in March 2017. He was taken into custody Thursday.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @rikkiking.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Lake Stevens in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Highway 9 work could disrupt travel through Lake Stevens

Construction is set for roundabouts on South Lake Stevens Road and one at North Davies Road and Vernon Road.

Logo for news use featuring Whidbey Island in Island County, Washington. 220118
Floatplane wreckage recovery in Puget Sound begins

The U.S. Navy will use a remotely operated vehicle Deep Drone 8,000, a barge and a crane in recovery efforts.

U.S. 2 was closed from the Money Creek tunnel to Skykomish on Monday evening because the Bolt Creek fire spread close to the highway. (Washington State Department of Transportation)
U.S. 2 closed near Skykomish as Bolt Creek fire spreads

The highway was closed from the Money Creek tunnel to Skykomish, mile posts 46 to 50.

This screenshot shows a man being hoisted to a rescue helicopter Monday after being involved in a plane crash near Lake Cavanaugh. (Snohomish County Sheriff's Office)
Brothers rescued after plane crash en route to Snohomish area

The two men, 78 and 79, were flying from Skagit County to an airstrip south of Snohomish when their plane went missing.

A woman was injured in an attack Sunday at Clark Park in Everett. (Everett Police Department)
Police: Purse snatching in Everett park led to stabbing

A Snohomish woman, 36, was arrested for investigation of first-degree assault and first-degree robbery.

A semi truck blows smoke out of its exhaust pipes while driving southbound on I-5 on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Reader: Did a tractor-trailer cover my car in diesel soot?

Probably not, according to a Department of Ecology spokesperson, since diesel emissions are getting “cleaner.”

Everett Memorial Stadium and Funko Field on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
City, county studying new outdoor stadium for Everett AquaSox

MLB facility requirements prompted government leaders to look at replacing Funko Field, either there or elsewhere.

Compass Health’s Broadway Campus in Everett. (Sue Misao / Herald file)
Judge dismisses Compass Health lawsuit over Marysville man’s death

Joshua Klick’s estate argued his relationship with a counselor signaled negligence. A judge found the claim had expired.

Councilmember Megan Dunn, left, stands next to County Executive Dave Somers as he presents his 2023 budget proposal to her, Councilmember Nate Nehring and Councilmember Sam Low. (Snohomish County)
Somers: Federal aid creates ‘historic opportunity’ to tackle challenges

The Snohomish County executive’s plan focuses on public safety, housing, child care, climate — and mountain biking.

Most Read