More than two years after a St. Nicholas couple was kidnapped, robbed and buried alive, the last of four people charged with the crimes faces a jury.
Last Friday, a jury found Tiffany Cole guilty of first-degree murder and other charges for her role in the slaying of Carol and Reggie Sumner. Last May, Cole's boyfriend, Michael Jackson, was also convicted of first-degree murder.
Bruce Nixon pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is awaiting sentencing.
In Duval County courtroom on Monday, the trial began for the final defendant: 20-year-old Alan Wade.
The prosecution's first witness was Wade's mother, who said her biggest regret is kicking her son out of her house before he turned 18.
"Looking back, I had a 17-year-old boy hooked on drugs being manipulated by a very unstable person," Frieda Ganey testified. "I regret to this day that I let that boy out of my sight."
Prosecutors said the four defendants hatched the plan to kidnap and kill the couple so they could steal their money. In opening statements, the state said they all knew the plan and dug a grave for the couple in Charlton County, Ga., two days before Wade knocked on the couple?s door and asked to use their phone.
According to prosecutors, Wade pulled the cord out of the wall and grabbed Reggie Sumner around the neck to begin the violent chain of events.
Defense attorneys told the jury that Wade wasn't involved until after the killings. They claim that Nixon, the prosecutor's star witness, lied about the others' involvement to get himself a plea deal.
Wade's attorneys said he got involved after the killings, helping use the information stolen from the couple to steal more money.
"Alan Wade is guilty of being an accessory and using the proceeds of Michael Jackson and Tiffany Cole?s and Bruce Nixon?s ill-gotten goods," attorney Refik Eler said. "But he's not charged with that. He's charged with the actual robbery, the actual kidnapping and the actual killing of those people."
Nixon is expected to testify for the prosecution later this week.