A career criminal and sex offender who was the last person to see a slain federal criminal investigator claims in a jailhouse interview with a reporter that the two planned to wed. The slain woman's family, however, says 56-year-old Randy Alana is lying.
A reporter for the Oakland Tribune talked to Alana at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, where he is being held on a parole violation. Alana said that he met Sandra Coke two decades ago while she investigated a murder case.
He denied harming her.
"We recently talked about getting married," Alana told the newspaper.
Coke, 50, was last seen with Alana on Aug. 4, whom she briefly dated about 20 years ago, police and Coke's friends say. Search and rescue crews found Coke's body five days later in a woodsy area near Lagoon Valley Park in unincorporated Vacaville in Solano County.
"This is a man with convictions for murder and kidnapping. He was the last person seen with my sister, but claims he has nothing to do with her disappearance and killing," said Tanya Coke, Sandra Coke's sister, in a written statement. "He is clearly someone who thinks nothing of lying and manipulating to serve his purposes. Why would we or anyone else believe what he has to say?"
Alana appeared in an Alameda County courtroom on Friday to face allegations that he'd violated his parole by contacting Coke, a capital case investigator for the federal public defender's office in Sacramento. Alana was also accused of resisting arrest, failing to charge a GPS monitor he was required to wear on his ankle and absconding from parole.
Alana was arrested on Aug. 6 for violating his parole, two days after Coke was reported missing after leaving her Oakland home and telling family members she was meeting someone with information about her missing dog.
Judge Morris Jacobson did not say why Alana had been ordered to stay away from Coke. Alameda County prosecutor Paul Hora told reporters after Friday's hearing that he didn't know why Alana had been told to stay away from Coke, but said the condition is specific to her.
Hora said Oakland police are still investigating Coke's death and Alana has not been charged in connection with the incident.
Alana told the newspaper that his attorney advised him not to talk to anyone about the case, but he said he had nothing to hide. He said he had nothing to do with Coke's murder.
"We recently talked about getting married," Alana said.
Alana said that he violated parole five times and spent extended time in the Santa Rita Jail. Deputies told the newspaper that Coke was a "regular visitor" of Alana.
Coke worked for the federal public defender's office as an investigator on death penalty cases. She also had worked for the California Appellate Project, the San Francisco Public Defender Office, the Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama, and she had her own private investigation firm.
According to a press release issued by the federal defender's office, her work contributed to a recent effort to overturn a 2001 Sacramento County murder conviction.
"She dedicated her work and her life to looking for the best in people, to give some explanation to why people do what they do — even the most heinous of acts, all based upon the belief that no person should be judged only by the worst act he or she committed," the release said.