MAN SENTENCED TO 16 YEARS TO LIFE IN PRISON FOR MURDERING LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPUTY BY CAUSING CAR CRASH WHILE TRAN

Case # 06NF2339

Date: October 27, 2017

MAN SENTENCED TO 16 YEARS TO LIFE IN PRISON FOR MURDERING LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPUTY BY CAUSING CAR CRASH WHILE TRANSPORTING STOLEN STOVE ON 91 FREEWAY

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A man was sentenced to 16 years to life in state prison today for murdering a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) Deputy by causing a car crash while transporting a stolen stove on the 91 Freeway. The case was retried after the California Supreme Court overturned the defendant’s 2008 conviction due to the trial court failing to give a required jury instruction.

Defendant

Charge

Sentence

Cole Allen Wilkins, 41, Long Beach

Found guilty by a jury on Sept. 6, 2017, of the following felony count:

  • Second degree murder

Prior Prison Conviction

  • Failure to register as a sex offender in 2002

16 years to life in state prison

“The Orange County District Attorney’s Office extends our utmost gratitude to the jury for their careful consideration of the facts and for delivering a just verdict of murder in this case,” stated District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. “This defendant deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison for murdering a police officer who was on his way to serve and protect the public. Our hearts go out to Deputy Piquette’s widow and children who had to endure not only the sudden, tragic loss of their husband and father, but multiple trials and hearings. It is for them and other crime victims and survivors that we dedicate our lives.”  

Circumstances of the Case

  • During the early morning hours of July 7, 2006, Wilkins stole a shipment of appliances that had been delivered to a home under construction in Riverside County.
  • The defendant failed to secure the stolen appliances while fleeing the scene and left the tailgate of his pick-up truck down.
  • Wilkins drove on the 91 Freeway in Anaheim and allowed a full-sized stove to fall from his truck onto the freeway.
  • He refused to stop after knowing that the stolen stove had blocked the freeway lanes, sped away, and failed to return to the crash scene. 
  • At approximately 5:00 a.m., several people driving just west of Tustin Avenue on the 91 Freeway called 911 about a stove obstructing the left westbound lane. 
  • A few minutes later, Deputy David Piquette was forced to suddenly swerve in his unmarked County vehicle to avoid hitting the stove. 
  • As a result, the victim collided with a Mack cement truck, killing Deputy Piquette. 
  • The victim was a 10-year veteran of LASD and is survived by his wife and then-toddler twins. 

At the sentencing today, Deputy Piquette’s wife and children, and Wilkins’ sexual assault victim Jane Doe, gave emotional impact statements to the court pursuant to Marsy’s Law. Jane Doe stated in part, “I fear for myself and others, that you don’t understand or care about the impact that you as one person have had on so many lives … with that being said I will continue to move on with my life. My prayers are that this family will find healing with their brokenness and will be able to move on with their lives as well.”

Statements by Deputy Piquette’s 14-year-old son and daughter were read to the court. His daughter wrote in part, “Even today I struggle without my dad … I sometimes feel like I’m missing a whole half of myself. A half I will never get to know. A part of me that will forever be lost. As I look toward my future I wonder, who will be there to walk me down the aisle when I get married? … As of now it pains me that my mother lost her soulmate and that any kids I decide to have in the far future have already lost a grandfather.” She continued, “May one day he learn his lesson for good so no one else will ever have to travel the path our family has traveled.”

The victim’s son wrote in part, “I’d give anything to just see him and hug him just one more time and tell him we’re okay … everyone is okay we just miss you.” He continued, “I’ll never get to feel the embrace of my own father. I see all my friends with their dads and I see the bond and love between them. A love I’ll never get to experience … I miss someone I don’t even know. It’s even more painful than missing someone you did know … All I have to remember my father by is stories, pictures, and his grave.”

Prosecutor: Senior Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Walker of the Homicide Unit.