JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - As a man who admitted to his part in killing two people was sentenced on Friday, he asked for and was given forgiveness by the victims' family.
Bruce Nixon tearfully apologized to the family of Carol and Reggie Sumner as he took the stand at his sentencing hearing. They were abducted, robbed and buried alive in 2005.
"I'm so sorry for what I've done," Nixon said. "I mean, I'm not just saying because I know I want people to be lenient on me. I really do apologize."
Nixon pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder and agreed to testify against three co-defendants -- all of whom were convicted and could face the death penalty.
"I wish I could have stopped it before it happened, but I was too young," Nixon said.
One by one, Nixon's family members also took the stand and asked the judge not to sentence him to life in prison.
"I love him very much, and I know he's a good person with people," said his mother, Wendy Kubicek.
"We all miss him, and he's a good person," Nixon's sister, Christine, said. "I wish everyone else could see that."
The Sumner family told Nixon that they have forgiven him.
"Nothing can bring back my brother and his wife," said Revis Sumner. "Forgiving you, but not excusing you, will make your heart true ... with your maker."
Carol Sumner's daughter addressed Judge Michael Weatherby directly.
"I know my mother and Reggie, and I know they wouldn't want him to spend his life in prison," Rhonda Alford said. "I know they wouldn't want that, so I ask you to be lenient with him."
Weatherby said he came to court on Friday intending to sentence Nixon to life in prison. After hearing how Nixon cooperated with prosecutors and from both families, he sentenced him to 45 years.
As they were leaving the courtroom, the two families joined in prayer.
"Thank you for using Bruce and his time in jail to bring many people to Christ," one prayed.
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