Man back in court after murder conviction to get sentencing date

Bay City News
Thursday, May 21, 2015
Randy Alana, left, is accused of killing Sandra Coke, right, who disappeared from her Oakland, Calif. home on Aug. 4, 2013.
Randy Alana, left, is accused of killing Sandra Coke, right, who disappeared from her Oakland, Calif. home on Aug. 4, 2013.

OAKLAND, Calif. -- A day after being convicted of first-degree murder for the 2013 strangulation death of his girlfriend, Randy Alana returned to court Thursday to have his prior convictions affirmed and have his sentencing date set.

Alana, 58, has 17 prior felony convictions, but Alameda County Superior Court Judge Larry Goodman struck three of them for sentencing purposes only, saying they were duplicative and involved cases for which Alana was only placed on probation. That leaves 14 priors for sentencing purposes.

Alana refused to waive time for his sentencing, so Goodman set the sentencing hearing for June 18. Goodman previously said Alana will face a minimum of 48 years to life in state prison and a maximum of 96 years to life.

On Wednesday, it took an eight-woman, four-man jury less than two hours to convict Alana of first-degree murder for the killing of Sandra Coke, 50, who worked as a federal public defender investigator in Sacramento.

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

Alana was also convicted of 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.

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 who was born in 1998.

Prosecutor Colleen McMahon said in her closing argument that Alana had multiple motives to murder Coke, but she thinks the biggest one is that she believes Coke had told him the night she disappeared that she would no longer be in a relationship with him or support him financially.

Alana's lawyer, Al Wax, had said Alana should be found not guilty of all the charges against him, arguing that Alana had no motive to kill Coke because he loved her and alleging that the prosecution failed to prove its case.

After the verdict was announced Wednesday, Wax said Alana maintains his innocence, expects to be vindicated in the long run and hopes Coke's real killers are found.

Alana, whose prior convictions include voluntary manslaughter, kidnapping, oral copulation with force and rape, didn't appear too concerned about his convictions Thursday as he smiled and laughed while he talked to Wax during his court appearance.

For security reasons, his feet and waist were shackled and he was guarded by two bailiffs.

McMahon said Thursday that the jury in the case "was efficient, diligent and very attentive" and was able to reach its decision very quickly.

She said the jury's verdict gives "justice and closure" to Coke's family members and friends.