OAKLAND -- New details emerged Monday in the slaying of federal investigator Sandra Coke, including a possible motive and confirmation that the suspect, Randy Alana, Coke's ex-boyfriend, is the father of her 15-year-old daughter.
The information was revealed during a preliminary hearing in the murder case against Alana, a 56-year-old career criminal accused of strangling Coke, 50, in a West Oakland motel before driving her dead body to Vacaville, where she was dumped in a creek.
Testimony given by a police officer and two of Alana's nephews revealed that Alana is the father of Coke's 15-year-old daughter and that Coke and Alana had a long-term romance two decades ago that was rekindled by Coke when Alana was released from prison in 2012 after serving 15 years for bank robbery.
The testimony also revealed that Coke became obsessed with finding her missing dog, Ginny, and suspected Alana might have had something to do with the disappearance.
Her suspicions were raised after Alana told her that he met someone who had information about the dog but would not reveal it unless Coke paid a $1,000 reward, testimony revealed. Coke gave Alana $1,000 but never received a tip about her dog, the testimony revealed.
Coke's obsession with finding her dog, coupled with her suspicion that Alana took the dog, triggered a series of events that resulted in Alana being sent to jail for a parole violation in May and missing the death and funeral of his mother, testimony revealed.
Alana took his mother's death "very hard," his nephew, Angelo Gross, said and was upset that he couldn't attend the funeral because he was in jail.
Coke also was upset that Alana had to be sent back to jail and tried to make sure he wouldn't stay locked up for long, as she refused to file a police report about her suspicions, Gross said.
Nevertheless, Gross said, Coke was upset enough with Alana, and she told Gross that she no longer wanted to be romantically involved with Alana but would remain friends in hopes that he would eventually reveal information about the missing dog.
Soon after Alana was released from jail in August, Gross said he learned that Coke had paid for Alana to stay in a motel in West Oakland. Police believe Alana strangled Coke to death in a room at Night's Inn Motel in West Oakland.
Several days later, Gross said, he received a somewhat frantic call from Alana that persudaded him to contact a police officer in Oakland that he knew. The call came a day after police believe Coke was killed.
The call from Alana followed several calls Gross had received from other family members who were concerned about both Alana and Coke after seeing news reports and talking with police, Gross said.
Gross said he kept asking Alana if Coke was "OK," but Alana refused to answer.
"He really wasn't listening to me, he just was describing how messed up it was, his parole conditions," Gross said. "I kept asking him what was going on, and he kept going on and on, 'I'm not going back to jail'"
Gross said he then continued to ask Alana about Coke, at which point Alana interrupted him.
"'Don't act square on me now. You know how I get down,'" Gross said Alana told him.
Alana then told Gross that for all he knows, Coke could be somewhere with Ginny, the dog.
The conversation prompted Gross to call a friend at the Oakland Police Department, who advised Gross to help police apprehend Alana. Gross did that later in the day, when he told Alana to meet him in West Oakland. Police were waiting for Alana.
Coke's body was found on Aug. 9 in Vacaville. Alana has been held at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin since Aug. 6 on a parole violation.
Gross also testified about the Coke-Alana relationship, which began more than 20 years ago when the two met during a death penalty investigation. Gross said the relationship seemed normal, and he always considered Coke his aunt.
Coke worked for the federal Public Defender's Office and conducted investigations on behalf of death row inmates.
The preliminary hearing continues Tuesday.