Man convicted as teenager in 1992 Tacoma drive-by shooting receives shorter sentence

TACOMA, Wash. — A man who was sentenced to 36 years in prison after a 1992 drive-by shooting at a Parkland pool hall received a shorter sentence Tuesday, thanks to a recent Washington State Supreme Court decision.

Rance Lance Cox, 47, had his sentence lowered to 32 years and 1 month. The 2021 Supreme Court decision found it unconstitutional for young adults to be sentenced to life without parole. Although Cox was not originally sentenced to life without parole, the decision extends to his case because he was convicted of murder charges when he was 19 years old.

“It’s a very different world back then and things are different now,” deputy prosecutor Douglas Hill said during the hearing Tuesday. “He has served quite a bit of time.”

Members of the victims’ families did not address the court Tuesday.

Judge Gary Steiner originally sentenced Cox after he was convicted of first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder in December 1993.

The drive-by shooting, which occurred in October 1992, resulted in the death of Louth Kim and injury of Kunthea Sok. It occurred at the parking lot of the then City Billiards and Arcade at 10707 Pacific Ave. S.

Prosecutors at trial alleged Cox was the driver of a white Cadillac that drove by the pool hall when Dontese Rolmel White and Alvin Lamont Jackson fired shots at people outside the hall.

Cox received a longer sentence than White and Jackson due to prior convictions, court records say. White and Jackson were sentenced to 15 years.

On Tuesday, Judge Garold Johnson said the recent Supreme Court decision is the best guidance the court could rely on as law evolves over time. The decision must be applied to cases like Cox’s, Johnson said.

Steiner tried to take Cox’s age into consideration, Johnson said, but Steiner was limited by the interpretation of the statutes at the time.

Hill said he has worked with the Department of Corrections to figure out what Cox has done and still needs to do so he can transfer back into society “with an eye towards success.”

Cox said during the Tuesday hearing he has worked on his mental and spiritual health since his incarceration. A lot of the programs the DOC offered played a big role in rehabilitating him, which he considers a blessing, he said.

“When I was out there in the streets, I really didn’t have any social skills. I didn’t have the tools that were provided to me,” Cox said. “I’m grateful to DOC … because without those programs, I wouldn’t be the man who I am today.”