A 28-year-old Huntington Beach man was sentenced Friday to 35 years to life in prison for shooting at a Costa Mesa police officer and breaking into two homes before giving up after a 40-minute standoff.
Korrell Santana Kybor Cole was convicted Feb. 6, 2020, of attempted murder of a police officer, assault with a semiautomatic gun on a peace officer, burglary and falsely representing himself as a police officer, all felonies, with sentencing enhancements for the discharge of a gun and personal use of a gun. Jurors acquitted him of one count of burglary and a count of grand theft was dismissed during the trial.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Michael Cassidy denied Cole’s motion for a new trial on Friday. Cole’s original attorney in the case, Jeremy Goldman, died, so the sentencing was delayed in part as his new attorney prepared a motion for new trial.
Cole, who is Black, argued that he was in fear for his life and fired a warning shot at white officers, his attorney, Rob Harley, said.
Harley also argued ineffective assistance of counsel on the part of Goldman for not putting a psychologist on the stand during the trial to testify that Cole has been diagnosed with paranoid personality, anxiety and psychotic disorders, which would have presented a “diminished actuality” defense against the intent to commit the crime.
Cole also raised issues about a conflict of interest because of the involvement Goldman and prosecutor Matthew Plunkett had in the Costa Mesa shooting case against Joshua Warning, the son of a former Real Housewives of Orange County cast member, Robison said.
Cole’s “one-man crime spree” began when Cole engaged in “one egregious act after another” on Jan. 30, 2016, as he attempted to elude police, Plunkett said in his opening statement of the trial.
“This really is a case about a one-man crime spree,” the prosecutor said. “It unfolds over a couple of hours.”
Goldman said his client “never intended to hurt anybody. … His intention was always to evade arrest and he never intended to harm anybody.”
Cole was wanted on a warrant at the time, according to court records.
The prosecutor said 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 walked away from the collision.
A short distance from the accident, a Costa Mesa police officer spotted Cole walking with another man and ordered them to stop, but he was “uncooperative” until the officer threatened him with a stun gun, Plunkett said.
Cole sat still for just five seconds before running off, leading the officer on a fence-jumping chase 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 at Cole to stop, Plunkett said.
A woman who was double-parked in a vehicle nearby was 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, Cole claimed to be 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 an unoccupied neighboring home and took 10 rings, watches, cash and keys to a BMW, Plunkett said. 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.
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.”