Trial of school shooter’s father focuses on protection order

SEATTLE — A Tulalip woman on Tuesday testified that, in 2002, she urged her tribal police officer husband to serve a protection order against Raymond Fryberg as soon as possible.

The protection order was for the woman’s sister.

Her late husband, Jesus Echevarria, left home with the documents and came back with the return of service, said the woman, Heather Gobin, 39. The two families lived in the same neighborhood.

A Tulalip tribal court judge also testified Tuesday that he saw the return of service — proof that someone has been served – and could not have taken any action in the 2002 proceedings involving Raymond Fryberg without that paperwork.

Fryberg’s lawyers maintain that he was never served with the protection order and therefore had no way of knowing that he was prohibited from owning firearms.

His trial in U.S. District Court in Seattle this week is focused on whether Fryberg illegally possessed firearms at his home on the Tulalip Indian Reservation. The jury won’t be told that Fryberg’s son, 15-year-old Jaylen, last fall used one of the guns to shoot five of his friends, killing four, before taking his own life in a cafeteria at Marysville Pilchuck High School.

The Frybergs gave police permission to search Jaylen’s room hours after the shootings.

Investigators returned days later with a judge’s permission for a more thorough search. About 200 photos were taken during that search, and some of the images show guns stored throughout the home, including at the foot of the defendant’s bed, Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce Miyake said in his opening statements Tuesday morning.

Fryberg’s lawyer, John Henry Browne, promptly asked for a mistrial. He said even describing the guns would prejudice the jury. He also renewed his request that the trial be moved out of the area because of publicity about the high school shooting.

“I still think we are in a situation where the tragedy at the high school has infected, more or less, this trial,” he said.

Judge James Robart denied both requests, saying the move for a mistrial was “not a sensible argument.” It is clear in the pictures that guns were unsecured, some leaning up against the walls, Robart said. Because the case is about the possession of firearms, the weapons are “clearly relevant,” the judge said.

Fryberg acquired 10 firearms in the years after the protection order, Miyake said. The tribal protection order was never entered into a state database. That meant Fryberg was able to continue to purchase guns and obtain a concealed pistol license despite undergoing background checks.

“The defendant slipped under the screen,” Miyake said.

When police searched the home last year, Fryberg reportedly told an FBI agent that he had been served with the protection order in 2002, but didn’t pay attention to the questions in his background checks to get guns, Miyake said.

The defense maintains Fryberg never was served. Moreover, the background checks and gun purchases — more than a dozen interactions with authorities in all, including tribal hunting trips where his name was checked by game wardens — led Fryberg to believe he was allowed to keep guns, Browne said.

After her sister filed for the protection order, Heather Gobin kept an eye out for Fryberg so he could be served, she said.

She told her husband, the police officer, “It was the most important thing we had to do,” she said.

On Tuesday, she said she recognized her husband’s handwriting on the form that was filed in tribal court. The document said Fryberg had been served.

Fryberg faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted on all six counts of illegal possession. He is expected to testify.

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

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