Tommie Cole convicted in DUI double murder

In the days following the fatal crash, Walmart associates created memorial photos of Beau (left) and Jeffrey (right) in Walmart Photo Department.

In the days following the fatal crash, Walmart associates created memorial photos of Beau (left) and Jeffrey (right) in Walmart Photo Department.

LANCASTER – It took less than two hours Tuesday for a jury to convict Tommie Lee Cole of driving drunk and causing the crash that killed two local Walmart workers nearly two years ago.

Cole, 26, was found guilty of two counts of second degree murder, two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, one count of DUI causing bodily injury, and one count of driving with a .08 percent blood alcohol causing injury. All special allegations were found to be true, including the allegation that the Cole’s blood alcohol level was greater than .15 percent when he caused the collision that killed 26-year-old Beau Fluker and 23-year-old Jeffrey Gilstrap.

“I just started sobbing,” said Jeffrey’s mother, Linda Gilstrap, when asked how she reacted to the verdict. “It’s not a feeling of joyful victory for me; it’s a hollow victory because it doesn’t bring the boys back.”

Gilstrap and Fluker were killed Feb. 26, 2012, when their vehicle collided with Cole’s vehicle at the intersection of Avenue J and 20th Street West in Lancaster. The men had just got off work at the West Lancaster Walmart and were carpooling home, when they were broadsided by Cole’s speeding vehicle.

Tommie Lee Cole

Tommie Lee Cole

Cole knew it was dangerous to drink and drive, yet he still got behind the wheel after several hours of drinking, prosecutor Edward Wiley stressed during the two-week trial.

In a passionate closing statement, Wiley asked the jury to compare the two drivers involved in the fatal collision.

Fluker was “stone cold sober,” having just gotten off work, and was driving eastbound on Avenue J at 39.5 miles per hour, Wiley said.

Cole was drunk and “driving a missile on wheels,” when he “punched it” to 69.19 miles per hour on 20th Street West trying to “beat the yellow,” Wiley said.

Cole’s blood alcohol level tested at .21, nearly three times the legal limit, and Cole also admitted to investigators that he drank several beers, a shot of whiskey, and a shot of tequila in the hours leading up to the crash, Wiley said.

Cole was well aware of the dangers of drinking and driving, having been arrested for DUI in 2009 and having completed an alcohol and substance abuse class in 2011, Wiley said.

“He knew the danger and he consciously disregarded it,” Wiley told the jury.

During closing statements, defense attorney Robert Nadler asked jurors to focus on testimony from an “unbiased” civilian eyewitness, who said Fluker was going “really fast.”  He also said Cole’s actions, although negligent, did not rise to the level of “conscious disregard for human life.”

“It just seemed like they were taking the facts and slanting them all to serve their purpose,” Gilstrap said. “I was really relieved that the jury was able to see that [Cole] really didn’t have any regard… he knew what he was doing.”

Gilstrap said the past two years have been a “horrible nightmare of a situation,” and she’s thankful justice has been served.

“The only thing that I can hope is that from here going out, this will give people a reason to stop and think ‘I really better call a taxi,’” Gilstrap said.

Cole is scheduled to be sentenced Friday (Feb. 28). He faces a maximum sentence of 30-years-to-life in state prison.

Previous related stories:

DUI double murder trial begins

Man ordered to trial in DUI double murder case

Hundreds say goodbye to Beau and Jeff

Man charged with murder in fatal DUI crash, bail set at $2 million

Family, coworkers remember men lost in alleged DUI crash

Alleged DUI driver kills two in Lancaster

  19 comments for “Tommie Cole convicted in DUI double murder

  1. GettaGrip
    June 12, 2014 at 11:56 am

    AV press censors out comments if they threaten the precious status quo in the Antelope Valley. And we know what that status quo is; law enforcement for profit and a mayor neck deep in conflict of interest with his law practice. This nothing town is pathetic.

  2. GettaGrip
    June 12, 2014 at 11:42 am

    Much of DUI enforcement is about money making and arrest stats. .08 isn’t even close to drunk driving. Nor is .09 or .010. True DUI accidents involve drivers 3 and 4 times over the limit. Wait till they reduce the limit to .05 you won’t even be able to have a spoonful of Nyquil without catching a criminal charge. And, if it’s such a problem then don’t allow the off-duty cops to sit at the bar pounding beers and covering for eachother and their family and friends doing the same as I have observed so many times.

  3. AW
    May 30, 2014 at 11:05 am

    Addiction is a terrible thing. May you never have to suffer under it’s immense wrath for you will surely lose without the sunlight of the spirit.

    I loved Tommie.
    My heart breaks for his grandmother.

    Anger and resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.
    I wish peace for all involved.

  4. granny
    April 23, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    You do the crime you do the time!!!

  5. Phillip
    March 1, 2014 at 10:11 am

    I went to the court yesterday where victims family got to say how they have been hurt. Everyone cried. I am crying now as I write this. The pain is still there. The pain and loss will be with the family’s forever. At one point I felt like picking the guy up and tossing him out of the window. In the old testament, it was an eye for an eye, – trail today, execution tomorrow. Today we do not do such things. This man will be in prison for the next 30+ years. In 10 years time – he will see how many of his friends and family still remember him. And guess what? He will still have at least another 20 years to serve.

    As the sister mentioned, he had a chance to take a plea deal and he did not. What do you think both families have been going through over the last two years? Has tommy ever taken any responsibility for the crash and killing of two young men? NO. How would you like to be in court for two years, and the accused person never takes any responsibility, laughs at you, and high fives to his friends and family. As a friend and as human being, I am sicken by his behavior. I hope that in the next year or so that he at least writes everyone who has been hurt and takes some responsibility for his actions. Tommy has over 7,000 days to ponder his actions and take some responsibility.

    Again, no family “won” yesterday. We can only hope that Tommy will spend some of the next 30 years pondering on his choices and educate his family, friends, and others of the consequences of driving while under the influence.

    • Dixie
      March 1, 2014 at 4:11 pm

      So what sentence was handed down? They need an update on this article and report what the final outcome was.

      From what you describe of Tommie’s behavior in court, it must have made it unbearable for the families of the victims. Evidently these last two years in county jail hasn’t humbled Tommie in the least. I wonder how long it will take him to accept responsibility and to realize how many lives have been hurt.

    • Grim Reaper
      March 1, 2014 at 4:23 pm

      I read this dude was facing 30 years to life and probably got that sentence knowing this judge Kathleen Blanchard is a tough judge when it comes to sending people to state prison. She was a former District Attourney in the Hard core gangs prosecution unit before she ran for judge and her husband is an L.A. County Sheriff’s deputy. In anycase this dude is on his way to state prison. It can be a rought place and he’s got to be aware of his surroundings and know what the con rules are. I’m sure his race (white race), the Aryans or Nazi Lowriders will show him the ropes once he gets to Wasco State Prison Reception center. Regardless, he will have to be physically strong, watch his back constantly, and be street smart in there, other wise he could be prey to the predator…assaulted, even raped or murdered.

  6. Kevin
    February 27, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    I’m glad to see that this has finally come to an end, though it’s a bit sad to think that he may serve a min of 30 years but my friend Jeff and his co-worker Beau only got to live for 23 and 26 years each. It’s a crying shame, justice has been served but I only wish I had my friend back.

  7. Kilo62
    February 26, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    I always thought this is what the charge of “Manslaughter” is for…. Do you really think he meant to kill someone? Or was he just being EXTREMELY reckless and irresponsible the night in question? Murder implies the that he intentionally meant to kill and/or inflict bodily harm the other party resulting in death. All he was doing was being reckless and stupid with his actions and those actions cost the lives of two human beings…. I don’t believe he should get away with the crime, but 2 counts of murder along with the manslaughter and other charges are a bit much…

    To put this in perspective, A man that pulls a gun on someone and shoots them in cold blood only receives 20 yrs in prison. Do you (the family of the victims) really believe that he meant to kill your loved ones? I don’t think he meant to kill them… It was a horrible accident that he must be held accountable for, but vengeance is never right….

    Finally, I’ve been keeping track of all news stories and comments on this topic for the last 2 years. And with all due respect, the vengeance seekers that we’ve all seen on here make me sick. Taking the life of the man that hurt you will not make your situation any better….. Seek professional counseling…. I mean that in the most respectful and professional way possible.

    • AV Folk
      February 27, 2014 at 5:26 am

      If it was his first DUI it would have been manslaughter. In court on the first one the judge will explain and have the person sign a document acknowledging that the next time it happens, if someone dies, it will be murder. It’s awful all around, but I do feel the streets are safer without this guy driving around our city any longer.

    • Angie
      February 27, 2014 at 9:32 pm

      We will see how you feel if it happens to your family members. He made a conscious choice and he got a second chance after the first DUI…These guys did not…2nd degree murder is NOT premeditated, which is appropriate!! He got the vehicular manslaughter because he was drunk driving causing a death..Instead of picking about his conviction, keep track of a law book and understand that we are all responsible for our actions. It is a shame how some crime on this site is viewed as acceptable…Slapping him on the wrist wont make anyone’s lives any better. Seek counseling yourself for justifying the murders.

    • Really...
      February 28, 2014 at 11:58 am

      Vengeance…are you serious???…There is a reason we have DUI laws on the books and that is to prevent senseless deaths like this…everyone knows that drinking and driving don’t mix including Mr. Cole who actually DID NOT learn one thing from his prior DUI …while others use designated drivers to take them home or call a cab…Mr. Cole willingly by his own free will chose to get behind the wheel knowing he should not be driving in his condition and did so anyway…and what outcome did that get him…being sentenced and punished for a CRIME he committed NOT vengeance!…My sincere sympathy goes out to the family and friends of the victims of this senseless crime…as I may not know what it feels like to lose someone to such a selfish act as a DUI…I do know what it feels like to be blessed with the gift of my loved one having survived being hit by a drunk driver that blew a .22 some few years ago that completely totaled their vehicle. My opinion is that 30 years isn’t enough because reality will show he will most likely be out in less than 10…and that is a crime in itself….PLEASE DON’T DRINK & DRIVE!!!

    • Missing them
      March 1, 2014 at 1:48 am

      If he didn’t have priors then it’s another story!!! He knew what he was doing and he had the attentions of putting himself and others in danger when he got behind the wheel I think justice is served!!

  8. Winbush
    February 26, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    I pray for the families involved and hope this brings some kind of closure to their sadness. I urge people to not drink and drive and to ask for a ride whether it be a sober friend or a family member killing innocent people should never happen. We all make choices good or bad which dictates our future wishing people would think about bad decisions before they make them. I also pray for the man who killed them clearly he needs help too.

  9. sallisue
    February 26, 2014 at 3:40 pm


  10. Dixie
    February 26, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    I can only imagine the agony these families faced while enduring this trial. I hope that eventually some healing can begin after the sentence is handed down. Prayers going up for both families of the victims.

  11. gemini
    February 26, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    Give him the maximum X2! Justice needs to be served.

    To the families of the lost; May God give you strength and ease your pain.

  12. Bob
    February 26, 2014 at 6:28 am

    Pay back is a b%#@$!

  13. phillip
    February 25, 2014 at 11:44 pm

    My thoughts and prayers go out to the families.

Comments are closed.