Lynden drug, robbery case goes to jury

The jury began deliberations Wednesday, April 18, to decide if Jeremiah Winchester was attempting to steal drugs from dealers who came to a Lynden home on the night his son was killed last fall.

Winchester is charged with first-degree attempted robbery, unlawful possession of a firearm and attempted possession of heroin and methamphetamine. His co-defendant, Johnny Arellano, is facing only the robbery charge.

Winchester's son, Jesse Winchester, 22, was shot and killed Nov. 22 at a home in Lynden after what police described as a drug deal gone bad involving the Winchesters, Arellano and others at the home. Defense attorney Michael Brodsky argued that Winchester had worked with bail bond companies before and was not intending to rob the dealers that came to the house; rather, he arranged the deal as a pretext because he'd heard one of the dealers was planning on jumping bail.

Arellano's attorney, Carl Munson, had told the jury in his opening statements that the prosecution wouldn't present sufficient evidence against Arellano, and he said that held true in his closing argument Wednesday.

The only person Arellano knew that night was Gavin Glyzinski. The two had been selling scrap metal earlier in the day in Skagit County and came to Whatcom County to meet with Winchester, a friend of Glyzinksi's. Munson said that Arellano had no idea if a robbery was going to take place.

"He was in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people," Munson said.

Brodsky reminded the jury that the burden is on the prosecution to prove Winchester guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and that poor decisions and previous criminal behavior weren't proof of guilt. He said it can't be proved that Winchester had a gun that night, and - whether or not the jury believes that Winchester was attempting to talk to the dealer about bail jumping - it can't be proved that Winchester took substantial steps to possess drugs or rob anyone.

Prosecutor Dave McEachran told the jury that what was really illuminating in this case was how Winchester behaved after Nov. 22. More than a month later, Winchester called the owner of the Lynden house and told her that if she checked in a fern in her yard, she'd find the gun that police were seeking from the night of the shootout, telling her that she could say she found it while she was looking for a necklace. The homeowner called police, who came and found a pellet gun with Jeremiah Winchester's blood on it in the bushes where he said it would be.

McEachran said Winchester planted the pellet gun there because he knew he was responsible for what happened that night. Brodsky said Winchester planted it because of pressure from police to find the gun they heard Winchester had that night, but Brodsky argued that Winchester had been unarmed.

McEachran described the claim that Winchester was working as a freelance bounty hunter that night as another "ruse." He said Winchester never mentioned the bail recovery claim in interviews just after the incident, nor did he mention it to anyone the night of the shootout.