The defense lawyer for career criminal Randy Alana asked a judge Friday to dismiss charges that he murdered his longtime girlfriend Sandra Coke last August, alleging that the prosecution only has "a very weak, circumstantial evidence case."
Defense attorney Al Wax, who has represented Alana, 57, in two other murder cases, argued that there's "insufficient evidence" that Alana murdered 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.
But Alameda County Superior Court Judge C. Don Clay said another judge, Thomas Reardon, who held a preliminary hearing for Alana last November had "sufficient probable cause" to rule that there's enough evidence for Alana to stand trial on the murder charge.
However, Clay said it's "another issue" as to whether there's enough evidence for a jury to convict Alana, whose trial is set for Oct. 6.
According to Oakland police, the 15-year-old daughter of Coke and Alana reported Coke missing at 10:34 p.m. on Aug. 4 after a woman had called the daughter to report that she had found Coke's work cellphone at 62nd Street and Market Street in North Oakland.
According to a probable cause statement by Officer Steven Bang, that location is consistent with the direction Coke's car was traveling that night and Alana's GPS tracking data.
Bang testified that the daughter told him that Coke had left their home at 639 Aileen St. in Oakland about 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 4 and then called her daughter about five minutes later to report that she was with Alana and they were looking for Coke's missing dog.
Alana was arrested at the Pittsburg/Bay Point BART station on Aug. 6 on charges of violating his parole for prior convictions by having numerous contacts with Coke even though he had been ordered to stay away from her.
Wax argued today that the prosecution's theory that Alana killed Coke "all depends on proof that Miss Coke was in fact killed on the evening of Aug. 4" but he said "there's uncertainty about the time of her death because a pathologist testified that he doesn't know the time of her death."
He said it's questionable that Alana killed Coke because he was arrested and placed in custody on Aug. 6 and her body wasn't found until Aug. 9.
But prosecutor Michael O'Connor said Judge Reardon was able to "connect the dots" that tie Alana to Coke's death and he believes "a jury won't have any problem connecting the dots" when the case goes to trial.
Alana has 17 prior felony convictions, including voluntary manslaughter, kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, rape and forced oral copulation.
Alana was charged with committing two murders in the 1980s, but Wax prevented him from being convicted of murder in either case and Alana was only convicted of lesser charges in both matters.
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