OAKLAND (BCN) — The sister of an Oakland woman who was murdered two years ago testified Thursday that she never knew that her sister’s boyfriend was a career criminal.
Taking the witness stand in the trial of Randy Alana on charges that he murdered federal public defender investigator Sandra Coke on Aug. 4, 2013, Coke’s sister, Tanya Coke-Kendall, said she thinks the reason Coke never told her family members about Alana’s background is that she was “ashamed” and knew they wouldn’t have approved of him.
Coke-Kendall, a former federal public defender who’s now a lecturer at John Jay College in New York City, said, “I know that’s why she didn’t tell us. She knew that not only would we not approve but we also would have told her to get away from him as quickly as she could.”
Coke-Kendall, who said she only met Alana once during the 20 years that he had an intermittent relationship with Coke, said her sister “could have done a lot better” and “was a beautiful person who should have had the man of her dreams.”
The daughter of Coke and Alana, who was 15 at the time, called Oakland police at 10:34 p.m. on Aug. 4, 2013, to report that Coke had gone missing from their home at 639 Aileen Street in North Oakland.
After a highly-publicized search, the decomposed body of Coke, 50, was found at a park in Vacaville five days later.
Alana, 57, has prior convictions for manslaughter kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, rape and forced oral copulation. He was paroled from state prison in June 2012 after serving time for his most recent crime. He was arrested for a parole violation on Aug. 6, 2013, and on Oct. 18, 2013, after prosecutors developed evidence against him, he was charged with murdering Coke.
Prosecutor Colleen McMahon said in her opening statement on Tuesday that Alana had a motive to kill Coke because he was angry at her for put him behind bars again when she called his parole agent on May 9, 2013, to report that he had violated his parole by stealing her car, stealing her daughter’s expensive headphones and taking her beloved black cocker spaniel Ginny.
She said Alana was released from jail on Aug. 1, 2013, after serving a little over two months in jail on his probation violation. McMahon said she believes, based on surveillance footage, cellphone records and a GPS tracking device that Alana wore as a condition of his parole, that Alana strangled Coke in the backseat of her 2007 white Mini Cooper convertible in a secluded parking area at the Nights Inn motel at 874 West MacArthur Blvd. in Oakland between 8:42 p.m. and 9:22 p.m. on Aug. 4, 2013.
However, Wax’s lawyer said Alana didn’t have a motive to murder Coke he loved her and hoped to marry her. Wax said in his opening statement that there’s “insufficient evidence” to prove that Alana killed Coke and Alana will take the witness stand later in the trial and testify that he had nothing to do with Coke’s death.
Coke-Kendall said today that she knew that Coke met Alana in 1993 but she didn’t know that he was in prison at the time and that she later worked as an investigator in one of his many cases.
Coke-Kendall said Coke told her that she broke up with Alana less than a year after they met because he had a substance abuse problem. But Coke-Kendall said her sister got reacquainted with Alana in 1997 because her biological clock was ticking and she wanted him to father a child with her.
However, under cross-examination by Wax, Coke-Kendall said her sister only considered Alana to be “a sperm donor” and not a father in a real sense.
Coke-Kendall said, ever since Coke was killed it’s “haunted” her why Cook resumed her relationship with Alana after he was paroled in 2012. She said, “I understand some of the reasons but I don’t know everything. I think about it all the time.”
Coke-Kendall said, “It makes me very sad, about how lonely she must have been” to take up with Alana again after not having been in a relationship for many years. The daughter of Coke and Alana is expected to testify on Monday when Alana’s trial resumes.
Coke-Kendall said the daughter has been “traumatized” by Coke’s but “she’s a brave girl” and plans to testify.