Long Beach Man Sentenced to 26 yrs for Murder when A Stolen Stove Fell from his Truck
Cole Allen Wilkins, 32, of Long Beach California has been sentenced to 26 years to life in prison for a murder charge that was a freak accident. David Piquette, a 10-year veteran of the Los Angeles county Sheriff's Department was killed due to a crash he sustained after a stolen stove fell from the back of Wilkins' truck.
It was July 07, 2006 when Deputy Piquette, 34, was on his way to work driving his county-issued Crown Victoria. Cole Wilkins was driving a Ford pickup that had appliances - later to be discovered as stolen - from a home construction site in Riverside County.
According to witnesses, Wilkins' tailgate was open when the stove fell out onto the 91 Freeway in Anaheim. Prosecutors argued that in his rush to leave the home-site, he failed to tie down the stolen merchandise. At least a couple of motorists traveling ahead of Piquette ran into the stove, as other drivers were successful in swerving to avoid it. However, when Piquette swerved to avoid the appliance, he crashed into a cement truck that resulted in his unfortunate death.
In May, a jury found 32-year-old Cole Wilkins, the driver of the pickup truck, guilty of first-degree murder. And on Friday (July 11, 2008) he was sentenced 26 years to life.
Prosecutors argued that because the accident happened during the commission of a felony, Wilkins should be charged with murder. Wilkins cited case law and maintained this tragedy as an accident and not murder.
Wilkins' attorney, Joseph Vodney, argued at trial that the case against his client was highly unfair, as well as the murder charge being highly excessive because Wilkins did not intend to harm Piquette. "This is an excessive sentence in the sense he shouldn't have been convicted of felony murder."