OAKLAND - A veteran defense attorney who successfully represented career criminal Randy Alana in two murder cases in the 1980s was appointed today to represent Alana on a charge that he murdered his longtime girlfriend Sandra Coke last August.

Alana, 56, who has 17 prior felony convictions, is accused of murdering Coke, 50, a federal public defender investigator who knew him for about 20 years and had a 15-year-old daughter with him.

Coke was reported missing from her Oakland home last Aug. 4 and her body was found at a park in Vacaville five days later.

Alana was arrested on Aug. 6 for allegedly violating his parole for prior convictions by having numerous contacts with Coke even though he had been ordered to stay away from her. On Oct. 17 he was charged with murdering Coke, who died of asphyxia and compression of the neck.

Alana was charged with committing two murders in the 1980s, but defense attorney Albert Wax, who was appointed to represent him in the Coke case, prevented him from being convicted of murder in either case.

In the first case, Alana was charged with murdering Marilyn Pigott, 23, who was found beaten to death with a claw hammer in her apartment in North Oakland on Aug. 13, 1983.

Jurors deadlocked 9-3 in favor of convicting Alana of murder in his first trial for Piggott's death but acquitted him of that charge in his second trial. He was only convicted of receiving stolen property for taking Piggott's ring, according to former Alameda County prosecutor Russell Giuntini, who handled the case.


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In the second murder case, Alana and James Hodari Benson were accused of fatally stabbing fellow inmate Al Ingram, 40, at an Alameda County jail in June 1984 while Alana was awaiting his first trial in the Piggott matter.

Guintini said all three men belonged to the Black Guerilla Family prison gang and Alana and Benson suspected that Ingram was a police informant but that wasn't true.

Benson was convicted of murder and is still in state prison but Alana wasn't convicted of that charge and later pleaded no contest to the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to six years in state prison, Giuntini said.

Alana's other prior convictions include kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, rape and forced oral copulation.

In November 1998 Alana was sentenced to 15 years in state prison for his robbery conviction and he wasn't paroled until June 2012.

Oakland attorney David Bryden was appointed to represent Alana after he was charged with murdering Coke and Bryden handled Alana's preliminary hearing in November.

But Alana then fired Bryden and represented himself at several pretrial hearings before arranging to have Wax appointed to represent him again at the public's expense.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Paul Delucchi today scheduled Alana's trial to begin on Oct. 6. Delucchi also scheduled a hearing for March 28 on a defense motion to dismiss the charges against Alana.



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