Tiffany Cole was convicted of the murders of her neighbors James and Carol Sumner. According to court documents Tiffany Cole would go to her former neighbors home asking to use the telephone. When she was granted access to the house Alan Wade, Bruce Nixon and Michael Jackson would push their way into the home.
James and Carol Sumner would be bound with duct taped and brought to a remote location where they would be buried alive
Bruce Nixon would cooperate with police and received a 45 year prison sentence. Alan Wade, Michael Jackson and Tiffany Cole would be sentenced to death. Alan Wade had his death sentence overturned and was sentenced to life without parole. Michael Jackson remains on death row in Florida
Tiffany Cole More News
A jury voted 10-2 to spare the life of a woman convicted in Jacksonville’s notorious “buried-alive” case in 2005, according to Times-Union news partner First Coast News.
The jury found co-defendant Tiffany Ann Cole did not deserve the ultimate punishment for her role in the crime. She is now sentenced to life in prison.
Cole, 41, was previously convicted of murdering Reggie and Carol Sumner in July 2005. The 61-year-olds were kidnapped from their Jacksonville home, bound in duct tape and driven to some remote woods in South Georgia where they were buried alive.
Cole knew the couple, who were friends with her father and once lived in her neighborhood
Her original 2007 death sentence was thrown out in 2017 after Florida began requiring unanimous jury verdicts in death cases. Cole’s first jury was split 9-3. While her resentencing was in process, however, the law changed again. Florida juries can now sentence someone to death with a vote of just 8-4.
During closing arguments, attorney Jay Plotkin, the original case prosecutor, told jurors they should hold Cole accountable for the carefully premeditated “horrible acts.” He noted Cole held the flashlight as her three co-defendants dug the “death pit” two days before the murders.
“While she may not have turned a shovel of dirt from the hole where the Summers were left to die, she was certainly an instrument — and I would submit the catalyst — of why Reggie and Carol Sumner died. Simply stated, these murders would not have happened but for her.
Plotkin said she deserved death even though her boyfriend and co-defendant Michael James Jackson was the mastermind. “What evidence is there that she was dragged kicking and screaming into the dark night of crime by Michael Jackson?” he asked. “The only people dragged into the night of the crime were the people killed in that hole.”
Cole’s attorney Julie Schlax argued she has changed since her arrest and has been an inspiration to other inmates.
“Tiffany Cole is not ‘the worst of the worst,’” she said. “I submit how she has lived her life and truly found an ability to overcome those shortcomings that led her to Georgia in the middle of the night.”She reminded jurors about extensive witness testimony that Cole suffered from low self-esteem, early drug abuse and had been molested by her father.
“Does it excuse it? Of course not, Schlax said. “None of us will ever forget what happened to the Sumners in 2005. And nor should we. Tiffany Cole won’t forget either. There will not be a day of her life that she spends behind bars [not] thinking about what occurred in 2005, and what led her to be a part of that. But Tiffany Cole is so much more than that. And she actually has the ability to contribute. We ask you not to judge her solely for her actions of 2005.”
Schlax noted Cole would die in prison regardless, and that a life sentence is a sufficient punishment.
Cole’s co-defendants Jackson and Alan Lyndell Wade were already resentenced. Wade was given a life sentence last year; Jackson was resentenced to death in May. A fourth co-defendant, Bruce Nixon, was sentenced to 45 years in prison for cooperating with investigators.