Two men associated with the MS-13 gang who drove to West Columbia from Houston in November 2008 to kill a man have been sentenced to life in prison for the crime.
A federal grand jury in February found Martin Teran, 36, and Josue Benitez, 22, guilty of murder for hire, illegally possessing a firearm as an illegal alien and illegally re-entering the country after deportation. Teran also was convicted of witness tampering and obstruction of justice.
Federal judge Joseph Anderson Jr. sentenced Teran this week to three concurrent life sentences and Benitez to two concurrent life sentences. In a three-week trial, jurors learned that Teran and Benitez were hired by people in Honduras to kill Jorge Ramos, a 51-year-old West Columbia mechanic.
Teran, Benitez and unnamed others drove from Houston several days before the murder to surveil Ramos and buy vehicles to carry out the crime. On Nov. 2, Benitez shot Ramos with a .380 Beretta pistol in the head and back. Benitez was driven from the scene in the back of a pickup.
The suspects then returned to Houston, but Benitez was arrested two weeks later by Houston Police Department officers in possession of a weapon tied by ballistics to the Columbia shooting.