A 26-year-old Huntington Beach resident went on a “one-man crime spree” that included shooting at a Costa Mesa police officer and burglarizing two homes before giving up following a 40-minute standoff, a prosecutor told jurors Wednesday.
Deputy District Attorney Matthew Plunkett said Korrell Santana Kybor Cole, who is charged with attempted murder of a police officer among other felony counts, engaged in “one egregious act after another” on Jan. 30, 2016, as he attempted to elude police.
“This really is a case about a one-man crime spree,” the prosecutor said in his opening statement. “It unfolds over a couple of hours.”
Cole’s attorney said he would try to prove to the jury that his client did not attempt to kill the police officer, but was only trying to evade arrest.
He was wanted on a warrant at the time, according to court records.
According to Plunkett, Cole was driving a taxi cab that was struck by another vehicle at the San Diego (405) Freeway off-ramp at Harbor Boulevard the morning of the crime wave. The accident was not his fault, but Cole “walks away” from the collision, the prosecutor said.
A short distance from the accident scene, a Costa Mesa police officer spotted Cole walking with another man and ordered them to stop, Plunkett said. Cole was “uncooperative” until the officer threatened him with a stun gun, the prosecutor said.
Cole only sat still for five seconds before running off, leading the officer on a fence-jumping flight until he lost sight of the suspect, Plunkett said.
Costa Mesa police Officer Anthony Reitz eyed Cole near Pepper Tree Lane and Royal Palm Drive and yelled out of his squad car to Cole to stop, Plunkett said.
A woman double parked in a vehicle nearby is expected to testify that she saw Cole pull out a Glock handgun and fire a shot in the direction of Reitz in his patrol car, the prosecutor said. The bullet ended up in a Ford Ranger, he said.
Cole then ran to neighboring residences on Royal Palm Drive. The first home he broke into was unoccupied at the time, but the residents, Alfred and Winnie Lau, returned home about 11:45 a.m. after the defendant had grabbed a purse inside, Plunkett alleged.
When Alfred Lau confronted Cole in the garage, he said he was a police officer and assured the couple that he was Vietnamese and that they were safe, Plunkett said. Alfred Lau suspected otherwise, however, when he saw Cole’s gun, so the couple ran away, he said.
Cole then ran into a neighboring home, which was unoccupied, and took 10 rings, watches, cash and keys to a BMW, Plunkett alleged. He said Cole tried to flee in the BMW, but was trapped almost immediately in a perimeter the officers had established.
After about 40 minutes of negotiating with police, Cole surrendered, Plunkett said.
Defense attorney Jeremy Goldman said his client was not at fault in the traffic collision because the other driver ran a red light, but did the wrong thing in walking away from the crash scene.
“He was not in Costa Mesa looking for trouble,” Goldman said. “He did not impersonate a police officer… But, more importantly, he did not attempt to murder anyone.”
Cole’s “one clear intent” was “to evade arrest,” Goldman told the jury. “You don’t have to like it, or agree with it. He made a lot of mistakes that day… But your job is to decide what he’s responsible for and what he’s not responsible for.”
Cole opened fire over the front of the witnesses’ vehicle and behind the officer’s squad car, his attorney said.
“It was basically a shot to get their attention and let him go,” Goldman said. “He didn’t stop to fire more shots… If he wanted to kill Officer Reitz… he had the opportunity… But he didn’t intend to kill Officer Reitz. He didn’t intend to kill anybody.”
Cole is charged with one count each of attempted murder on a peace officer, assault with a semiautomatic rifle on a peace officer, grand theft and car theft, and two counts of burglary. He also faces a sentencing enhancement allegation of committing a crime while out of custody on a separate case.
Cole has a lengthy criminal history, and he has pending cases dating back to 2012, when he was charged with several counts of burglary for his alleged role in what Fullerton police characterized as a “ransack residential burglary” ring in Orange County.
He also faces pending cases of assault and battery from last year and possession of a deadly weapon by a prisoner.
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