A 41-year-old man who allowed a stolen stove to fly off the back of his pickup truck on the 91 Freeway in Anaheim, triggering a crash that killed a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy, was sentenced Friday to 16 years to life in prison, authorities said.
Cole Allen Wilkins, of Long Beach, was found guilty last month of second-degree murder in connection to the fatal July 2006 crash, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. He was also convicted on another charge of failing to register a sex offender in 2002.
Wilkins stole a shipment of appliances that had been delivered to an under-construction home in Riverside County, then fled the scene in a pickup truck without securing the items, prosecutors said in a news release.
A full-sized stove fell from the truck onto the freeway, causing the crash that killed L.A. County Deputy David Piquette, a 10-year veteran of the department, according to the DA’s office.
At the sentencing Friday, Piquette’s wife and twin daughter and son — now 14 — delivered written emotional victim impact statements in court.
“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,” the victim’s daughter wrote in her statement, according to the release. “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?”
“I’d give anything to just see him and hug him just one more time and tell him we’re okay,” the son wrote, “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.”
Wilkins was found guilty on Sept. 6 after the case was retried; the California Supreme Court tossed out a previous conviction because of “the trial court failing to give a required jury instruction,” prosecutors said.