Man gets life for killing deputy with stove


Officer Down: Deputy Sheriff David Piquette

By Larry Welborn
The Orange County Register

SANTA ANA, Calif. — The widow of a deputy sheriff killed in a traffic collision after a stolen stove fell from a pickup truck asked a judge this morning, “How do I explain to my children that their Daddy is in heaven and he’s not coming back?”

“How do you deal with being a Mom and your kids are telling you, ‘I don’t remember my Daddy’s voice?’ ” Shawna Piquette pondered when she told Superior Court Judge Richard Toohey about the impact of her husband’s 2006 death.

“How do I comfort them when they ask, “Why am I the only one who doesn’t have a Daddy?” she added with tears brimming in here eyes.

Toohey didn’t have answers for her questions.

But the judge did have an answer what to do about Cole Allen Wilkins, 32, of Long Beach, who was convicted in May of first-degree murder for causing the death of Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff David Piquette.

Toohey sentenced Wilkins to 26 years to life.

David Piquette was driving his sedan on his way to work before dawn on the Riverside Freeway in Anaheim on July 7, 2006 when he swerved to avoid a new stove that that fallen from the pickup Wilkins was driving, authorities said. Piquette was killed when his car crashed into a cement truck.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Michael Murray argued that Wilkins should be convicted of first-degree murder because he was in the process of completing the theft of the stove when it bounced out of his pickup and into Piquette’s way.

Murray told the jury that Wilkins knew that it was dangerous to human life when he drove with the stove and other stolen appliances unsecured in the bed of his pickup.

Before sentencing Wilkins told Piquette’s family that he was sorry but he insisted that he did not have the intent to hurt anyone.

“I know it’s no consolation to the family, but I would want them to know that I’m sorry for your pain and I’m sorry for your loss,” Wilkins said. “My family will lose someone as well. For the rest of my life, I’ll be behind bars because of this. I don’t know what else to say.”

Wilkins also said he didn’t believe he should have been convicted of murder because of an unintentional act.

David Piquette was a 10-year veteran of t he Los Angeles sheriff’s departments and the father of twins.

Before handing down his sentence, Toohey considered two letters from the twins, who are now 5 years old.

“Please bad guy, please be nice to my Daddy and say you’re sorry,” daughter Jordan wrote. “I am sad about my Daddy in my heart and I want my Daddy to go swimming with me. I cry every night because I miss my Daddy.”

And so Justin wrote, “I love my Daddy. I miss him and I love to wrestle with him. …I feel really sad. I cry about him.”

Copyright 2008 The Orange County Register

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