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Man sentenced to more than 36 years for 1996 Dayton murder

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Columbia County Courthouse

Columbia County Courthouse

DAYTON — A judge in Columbia County Superior Court today imposed a more than 36-year prison sentence on Dayton native Benjamin Orozco, 45, convicted by a jury last August of second-degree murder, first-degree assault with firearm enhancements, and second-degree unlawful firearm possession.

Orozco and a former co-defendant were accused of fatally shooting Lance Terry and wounding David Eaton near downtown Dayton on the night of July 7, 1996. Orozco’s co-defendant, David Delarosa, cut a deal to avoid prosecution in return for providing testimony for the state.

Orozco fled after the killing to Mexico, where he was apprehended and returned to Washington in 2016. He has been housed at the Washington State Penitentiary in lieu of $2 million bail, which was revoked upon his conviction in August 2019.

On Wednesday, Walla Walla County Superior Court Judge Scott Wolfram sentenced Orozco to the high-end of the range: 192 months, or 16 years, on count one, with an additional five years for firearm enhancements; 123 months, or just over 10 years, for count two, with another five years added for firearm enhancements and 12 months on count three.

The first two will run consecutively and the third concurrently. Upon release, Orozco will have two years of community supervision, which was the maximum allowed in 1996.

The sentence was longer than anticipated for some.

Columbia County Prosecuting Attorney Dale Slack told the U-B in an email that a records custodian from the Department of Corrections gave “a declaration that Mr. Orozco was on community supervision, adding one point to the offender score.”

Previously, Slack said he thought sentencing ranges were lower because Orozco’s DOC records from 1996 “were 20 years old and destroyed.”

During the trial last year, Orozco was the final one on the stand in the self-defense case.

He told about his life, including his birth in Dayton, moving to Walla Walla where he graduated from high school, and moving back to Dayton, where he was a migrant worker and encountered “racial issues” and “wasn’t treated fairly.”

He said he ultimately ran to Mexico because he “wouldn’t get a fair trial” and thought people wouldn’t like him because he’d shot Eaton and Terry.

Emily Thornton can be reached at emilythornton@wwub.com or 509-526-8325.

Emily Thornton covers courts and emergency services, as well as other various stories. She has been in the newspaper industry off and on since roughly 1999 and lived primarily on the West Coast, but also Florida and Europe.