Couple's Killer Becomes Only Woman On Florida's Death Row

Published On: Oct 14 2011 02:30:17 PM EDT   Updated On: Mar 06 2008 05:52:31 AM EST
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Tiffany Cole -- the last of the four people convicted in the kidnapping and murders of Carol and Reggie Sumner nearly three years ago -- was sentenced Thursday afternoon to two death sentences.

Last year, a jury that convicted Cole of first-degree murder voted 9-to-3 that Cole should receive the death penalty. The final decision was up to Judge Michael Weatherby, who sentenced her to a death sentence for the murders and life in prison on the kidnapping charge.

"This court has had a hard time coming up with a manner of death that could be more heinous, atrocious or cruel, or more painful or vile," Weatherby said before announcing the sentence.

Cole, 26, is the fourth person convicted of taking the Sumners, both 61, from their St. Nicholas home in 2005, robbing them and then burying them alive in a shallow grave in Charlton County, Ga.

Two of the other three are already on death row. Michael Jackson, who prosecutors called the ringleader of the plot to kidnap and kill the couple so they could use their credit cards, was sentenced in August. On Tuesday, Alan Wade was also sentenced to death.

Bruce Nixon, who testified for the state against the others, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is serving a 45-year sentence.

Cole cried during much of Thursday's court hearing and said nothing after sentencing other than tell her mother she loved her.

"I pray for Tiffany," Reggie Sumner's sister, Jean Clark, said after the sentencing. "I grieve that these four young people have wasted their lives but destroyed the lives of two others."

The Sumners' son was less forgiving.

"They buried my mom alive. They deserve to pay for it," Frederick Hallock told Channel 4's Dan Leveton.

While prosecutors said Jackson hatched the idea to kill the Sumners, Cole knew the couple from when they all lived in Charleston, S.C. According to testimony in November's sentencing hearing, the Sumners were friends of Cole's father and helped her buy their car when they were preparing to move to Jacksonville.

Cole becomes the only woman on Florida's death row. The Department of Corrections said she will likely be housed at a women's prison in Broward County while going through the appeals process and awaiting execution.

A 55-year-old Volusia County woman was sentenced to death for killing her husband in 1991, but the Florida Supreme Court last week upheld a lower court ruling overturning her sentencing and ordering a new hearing.

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