OAKLAND -- A felon accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend, a federal public defender investigator, must stand trial, a judge ruled Tuesday after a lengthy preliminary hearing.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Thomas Reardon decided a prosecutor presented enough evidence in the hearing that lasted more than a week to suspect that Randy Alana, 54, killed Sandra Coke, 50, and then drove her dead body to Vacaville where he is accused of dumping it in a dry creek bed.
Reardon made his ruling despite arguments from Alana's attorney, David Bryden, who said that Deputy district attorney Colleen McMahon had only provided circumstantial evidence. Bryden said McMahon was using Alana's past criminal history to create a suspicion of murder that was unfounded by facts in the case.
"Obviously, a homicide was committed but we don't know the date and no one saw Alana with the victim, they can't prove they were even together," Bryden said. "At this point it's pure conjecture and speculation."
McMahon did not make an argument but relied on the evidence presented during the hearing which included, among other things, GPS tracking, surveillance camera videos and testimony from Alana's nephews and two jailhouse informants who all said they suspected Alana.
The GPS tracking and the surveillance camera footage proved that on the day police believe Coke was killed Alana was driving her car and was near her residence.
Evidence also provided a possible motive. Testimony from both Alana's parole agent and Alana's nephew indicated that Coke believed Alana stole her dog and was upset when he successfully extorted $1,000 from her under the guise of getting information about the pet.
Coke turned Alana into parole for the extortion scheme but then refused to press charges, telling Alana's parole agent that she didn't want to get the father of her 15-year-old daughter in too much trouble.
But Coke's reporting of the extortion led to Alana's arrest on the same day his mother died. The violent sex offender also missed his mother's funeral as he waited in jail for a parole revocation hearing.
Alana's nephew said his uncle was upset that he missed both the death and the funeral of his mother.
Alana faces a lifetime in prison.
The murder case will resume Nov. 26.