Man sentenced in deputy's highway death

SANTA ANA A stolen stove fell off the man's truck on the freeway, causing the officer to crash.

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"This is very hard very hard, your honor. It's the hardest thing I've ever had to deal with," said Shawna Piquette, widow of David Piquette.

The widow of David Piquette, the 34-year-old L.A. County Sheriff's deputy killed two years ago when a stove fell out of a pickup truck on the 91 Freeway in Anaheim. Piquette swerved to miss it and was crushed by a cement truck.

A jury found 32-year-old Cole Wilkins, the driver of the pickup truck, guilty of first-degree murder in May. Authorities say he had stolen the stove from a home. While hurrying to leave, he did not tie it down. When it fell out, he didn't stop. The prosecutor argued the husband and father of twins died while Wilkens was committing a felony.

"It's so hard on my family to move on," said Lan Piquette, David Piquette's mother. "Ever yday I feel pain, every single day."

Showing their support during sentencing, more than 30 friends and family members of Piquette's sobbed as his wife talked about their twins, Justin and Jordan, who were 3 years old when they lost their dad.

"Tucking them in to bed, sometime the hardest time, seeing them fold hands in prayer yelling 'Daddy, please come back,'" said Shawna Piquette.

"I'm just so broken up about this. I think about him every day. It's a terrible loss for our family," said Bill Piquette, the victim's father.

Wilkens told the family he was sorry. He then went on to cite case law insisting this was not murder, but an accident.

"I felt no remorse from the defendant whatsoever," said Shawna Piquette.

The Long Beach man has a long criminal history, going back to when he was 11 years old, when he stabbed someone. At 15 he brutally raped a woman. She required 100 stitches and plastic surgery. For the murder of David Piquette, the judge sentenced Wilkens to 26 years-to-life in prison, calling him "an extremely dangerous individual."

"This is an excessive sentence in the sense he shouldn't have been convicted of felony murder," said Joseph Vodnoy, Cole Wilkins' defense attorney.

"It's been a long time coming, but ultimately it was the right sentence," said Shawna Piquette.


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