Stalker Sentenced to 35 Years to Life
News from the Office of District Attorney George Gascón
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DECEMBER 30, 2015
CONTACT: ALEX BASTIAN-415-553-1931
STALKER SENTENCED TO 35 YEARS TO LIFE
SAN FRANCISCO — Today, District Attorney George Gascón announced that Thomas Coca, age 70 of San Francisco, was sentenced yesterday to 35 years to life for stalking, assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury, petty theft, dissuading a witness, and two counts of exhibiting a deadly weapon.
“This man went to unconscionable extremes that put this victim in considerable fear for her safety,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “Stalking is a very serious crime which takes a tremendous toll on the victim. In the year ahead, I will seek changes to state law to make it easier for law enforcement to intervene earlier and provide greater protections for victims of these crimes.”
According to court records, the defendant and victim met while they were both traveling on the J train Muni line. The defendant introduced himself with a fake last name which ensured the victim would never learn about his criminal past. A brief friendship started between the victim and defendant. During late October, 2014 into November, the victim and defendant had a few meals together and chatted over tea. Soon thereafter, the defendant grew angry with the victim after she failed to respond to a text message. The defendant shouted at the victim, and followed her for several blocks as she insisted that he leave her alone. After that night, the victim expressed to the defendant that he made her feel unsafe and that she no longer wished to see him. Thereafter, the defendant flooded the victim with hundreds of phone calls, voicemails and text messages. From December 16, 2014 until February 10, 2015, the defendant would repeatedly profess his love to the victim, he would then call her names and insult her. He threatened to take his own life, and repeatedly let her know that he was nearby and could see her at any given point.
The victim never responded to a call, message or text after mid-December, 2014, but the defendant’s persistence did not cease. He believed that the victim was his girlfriend and he insisted he would win her back. Despite never having told the defendant where she worked, the defendant showed up multiple times at the victim’s job as well as other locations where he knew she would be during her commute home. With the escalation of the defendant’s behavior, the victim grew more and more afraid of what he was capable of doing to her.
On February 10, 2015, the defendant armed himself with a condom, a roll of duct tape, and a knife and set out to stalk the victim where he knew she would be walking alone, at night. As soon as the victim saw the defendant, she tried to walk away and began screaming for help. She took out her phone to call police and the defendant attacked. After striking the victim multiple times, several Good Samaritans came to the victim’s aid. The defendant dragged the victim and demanded that she go with him. When bystanders ordered him to stop, he responded “It’s okay, she’s my girl.” The defendant took the victim’s phone in order to ensure that she could not call police. Eventually, the defendant let go of the victim and tried to leave the scene. Two men then followed the defendant and tried to make him stop. The defendant turned around multiple times and brandished the knife at the men, demanding that they stop following him. Fortunately, just as the defendant began to take off running, SFPD arrived on scene and took the defendant into custody.
A jury returned the verdict on December 1st. According to court records, Mr. Coca has prior convictions for robbery and kidnapping in 1971, rape, kidnapping, and forced oral copulation in 1980. The Honorable Jerome Benson presided. This sentence comes in advance of National Stalking Awareness Month, January 2016, which serves to raise awareness regarding the realities of stalking. According to the Department of Justice, as many as 7.5 million people are stalked each year in the United States.
“Mr. Coca violated this victim’s sense of safety and security, and turned her life upside down,” said Assistant District Attorney Erica Corns. “Due to her bravery and willingness to testify, this career predator will never harm anyone else.”
This successful prosecution is a result of the excellent work of SFPD Inspector Eric Balmy, Victim Advocate Amanda Reichmuth, Paralegal Kristine Singh, District Attorney Investigators Ray Tang and Mikky Toomer. Morris Moore and Jamil Niazi provided IT support. ADA Erica Corns prosecuted the case, with additional support provided by ADA Rebecca Wagner.