OAKLAND -- Before police located the body of Sandra Coke, the man accused of killing her wrote a boastful letter to a fellow inmate expressing pleasure about the perceived lack of progress in the law enforcement investigation.
"So far so good," Randy Alana, 54, wrote to the inmate. "It's after the first 48."
The inmate, who is not being named at the request of deputy district attorney Colleen McMahon, testified in court Thursday that Alana was expressing joy in the letter about how it appeared police had not solved the case after the first 48 hours. The inmate said the common perception among inmates is that cases are often dropped if an inmate is not charged within 48 hours of being arrested.
Alana was taken into custody on a parole violation on Aug. 6, two days after police believe Alana strangled Coke to death behind the Night's Inn Motel in the 800 block of West MacArthur Boulevard. Alana was not charged with murder until Oct. 18.
The 39-year-old inmate who testified Thursday said he knew Alana from living on the streets of Oakland and said the two had smoked crack together as recently as May at the Sage Motel and Mills Motel, two East Oakland motels the inmate said are frequented by prostitutes and drug users.
The inmate was the second to testify against Alana and described Alana's attitude toward news reports about Coke the same way. Both inmates said Alana appeared not to care about reports that Coke was missing and showed no remorse or sadness when her dead body was found.
Instead, both inmates said Alana appeared to be in good spirits when he knew police had yet to locate Coke's body and worried when he learned that her body was found.
The inmate who testified Thursday said he received no special deal to come forward, only a promise that he might get released from jail sooner if he cooperated with the investigation.
His deal was drastically different from that given to the 29-year-old inmate who testified Tuesday. That inmate was released from jail Wednesday, placed on probation for five years and could have a 16-month state prison sentence overturned.
Both inmates were in jail on charges of being in possession of drugs, fleeing from police and driving while intoxicated. The 39-year-old inmate also had a charge of hit-and-run filed against him, jail records show.
The 39-year-old inmate said Thursday that he decided to help in the investigation because he was upset that Coke was killed and believed Alana was responsible.
The inmate said he thought it was wrong for Alana to have allegedly killed Coke since they had a child together and Alana had said previously that the pair was going to get married.
"Me and my (cellmate), we started tripping out," the inmate said. "For you to be saying that you had a child by her and you're supposed to be getting married, his attitude wasn't right."
Coke, a federal investigator with a federal public defender's office in Sacramento, met the career criminal Alana almost two decades ago during an investigation. The two had a relationship and had a daughter together.