Payson Man Found Guilty In Murder, Robbery Spree

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A Payson man who went on a two-day, two-state crime spree last summer was found guilty of murder last week in connection with the death of his accomplice, Christopher Engelbrecht.

Randy Scott Blaney, 23, was found guilty on seven counts ranging from first-degree murder to attempted robbery.

Blaney's crime spree took place in July 1999, and began in Payson with the abduction of 20-year-old Greg Freye, who was an employee of Wal-Mart at the time. It was after 10 p.m., July 12, when Freye picked up Blaney and Engelbrecht, who were hitchhiking. Freye drove the two men who called themselves Rudy and Steve around the Rim country as the two searched for a pair of unidentified girls.

After about two hours, Freye got tired of the search, and offered to drop the men off at Houston Mesa Campground, but Blaney and Engelbrecht pulled guns on Freye and ordered him to get into the back seat of the car.

From the Houston Mesa Campground, the trio drove to Gisela, where the hitchhikers booted Freye out of the car, ordered him to strip and stole his car, leaving the 20-year-old by the side of the road.

Still naked, Freye made his way back to Gisela and was heading toward Rye when a sheriff's deputy picked him up.

Blaney and Engelbrecht drove the stolen vehicle to San Diego, Calif. and headed toward Mexico. In San Ysidro, they attempted another crime the mugging of a dispatcher for the border patrol, who was headed to work.

That's where the crime spree ended. The dispatcher noticed Engelbrecht coming at him with his gun drawn, pulled a knife and disarmed the suspect. Engelbrecht fled back to the car, and as they pulled away, Blaney fired two shots at the dispatcher, missing both times. The dispatcher, armed with Engelbrecht's gun, shot back, and fatally wounded Engelbrecht.

Blaney was charged with the murder, since Engelbrecht was killed while the duo were committing a felony. According to federal law, suspects committing a felony are held responsible for any deaths that occur during the crime.

San Diego Deputy District Attorney Greg Kimmell said the trial lasted five days, ending with guilty verdicts of first-degree murder, attempted murder, assault with a semi-automatic firearm, conspiracy to commit robbery, attempted robbery, felony possession of a firearm and driving a stolen vehicle while armed.

"Each one of those counts carries various sentences," Kimmell said. "Basically, though, what he's looking at barring any unforeseen circumstances is life without parole."

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