Oakland man gets 131 years to life in murder of federal investigator

OAKLAND (KRON/BCN) — An Oakland sex offender with a long criminal history was sentenced to 131 years
to life in prison for strangling his girlfriend, federal defense investigator Sandra Coke in 2013.

During sentencing on Thursday, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Larry Goodman called Randy Alana a “black hole that sucks the life out of anything positive.” Goodman also said that in more than 30 years on the bench, he has never seen such a “mountain of evidence” proving a defendant’s guilt as he saw in Alana’s 26-day trial.

On May 20, it took jurors less than two hours of deliberations to convict 58-year-old Alana on first-degree murder, as well as second-degree robbery for stealing items from Coke, vehicle theft for stealing her car and two counts of grand theft for using her ATM card.

50-year-old Sandra Coke disappeared from her home on Aileen Street in Oakland the night of Aug. 4, 2013. Her decomposed body was found in a remote area in Vacaville five days later.

Coke met Alana in 1993 when he was in custody and she interviewed him on behalf of a death row inmate for whom she was working. They have a daughter together who was born in 1998.

Alana has a lengthy criminal past that began in 1979 when he was convicted of kidnapping, oral copulation with force and two counts of rape. He has a total of 17 prior convictions. He was prosecuted on murder charges twice in the 1980s. In the first case he was acquitted. Jurors deadlocked in the second case, and he pleaded no contest to a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter.

His guilty verdict in Coke’s killing marked the first time he was convicted of murder.

During closing arguments, prosecutor Colleen McMahon told jurors that Alana had multiple motives to murder Coke but said that she believes the biggest reason was that Coke had told him the night she disappeared that she would no longer be in a relationship with him or support him financially.

McMahon said she also believes that Alana was angry at Coke because she had helped put him back behind bars 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 cocker spaniel, Ginny.

Prosecutors say they believe Alana strangled Coke in the back seat of her Mini Cooper in a secluded parking area at the Nights Inn motel on W. MacArthur Blvd. in Oakland sometime on Aug. 4.

During the trial, Alana’s lawyer, Al Wax, told jurors that his client had no motive to kill Coke because he loved her and argued that the prosecution failed to prove its case.

Alana testified during the trial that he wasn’t Coke’s murderer and that he wanted to find the person who actually killed her.

On Thursday Judge Goodman said that he believes Alana engaged in “a tsunami of lies” on the witness stand and called Alana’s demeanor on the witness stand “creepy.”

The judge said Alana’s “improbable, convoluted answers went beyond credibility” and he believes Alana suffers from an “acute anti-social disorder.”

In a letter read in court on her behalf, Coke’s mother, 85-year-old Delvies Coke, said that it’s “painful” to watch her granddaughter, the daughter of Alana and Sandra Coke, cry at night and “suffer from the trauma of losing her mother.”

Delvies Coke said her daughter “devoted her life to seeking justice for the disadvantaged,” but “her naivete and trusting nature were her undoing.”

Also in court, a letter was read by Coke’s sister, Tanya Coke-Kendall, was said the daughter Alana claimed to love has now been orphaned and said Alana essentially “carpet-bombed” the child’s life. Coke-Kendall is a former federal public defender who is now raising the daughter.

Alana and Wax declined to speak during Thursday’s sentencing hearing.

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