JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Testimony began Tuesday in the murder trial of one of four suspects accused of kidnapping and robbing a St. Nicholas couple and then burying them alive in July 2005.
Prosecutors said Jackson, who is accused of two counts of first-degree murder and other charges, was the ringleader in the kidnapping and slaying of Carol and Reggie Sumner.
The Sumners, both 61, were reported missing after their daughter could not reach them by telephone and drove from South Carolina to find her parents gone from their St. Nicholas home.
The couple's Lincoln Town Car was found in Baker County two days later and a person of interest led authorities to a shallow grave in Charlton County, Ga. The medical examiner said the Sumners were buried alive.
"These extremely wicked, shockingly evil crimes were conceived in this man's mind," said the prosecutor. "This plan was carefully constructed and prearranged all in this defendant's mind. The motive for these crimes was simple -- money."
The jury heard from the couple's daughter and several officers on Tuesday.
One of the officers took the stand with recordings of 911 calls that the prosecution claimed were made by Jackson posing as Reggie Sumner, who police said was killed two days before the call was made.
Prosecutors said Jackson called police to make sure he could still use the Sumners' ATM card.
However, they said Jackson messed up when he gave the wrong name of a city in which he was supposed to be staying.
The call got worse, according to the prosecution, when Jackson put his girlfriend on the phone to pretend to be Carol Sumner. However, the woman was not able to answer questions about her pet names.
Throughout the beginning of the trial, Jackson sat seemingly emotionless in his chair.
His defense attorney told Channel 4 he was sure of his case, and said Jackson admitted he was going to rob the Sumners but that he never thought of killing the couple nor was he the mastermind of this crime.
"The issue is who did what and who knew what, and when did they know it," said Jackson's attorney.
Earlier this year, one of the other suspects, Bruce Nixon, pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder, armed kidnapping and armed robbery.
Detectives said Nixon was the man who led them to the grave.
In addition to Jackson and Nixon, prosecutors have charged Tiffany Cole and Alan Wade.
Nixon faces from 52 years to life in prison, but will not be sentenced until the cases of the other three defendants are resolved.
- April 30, 2007: Second Man Goes On Trial In Couple's Slaying
- September 15, 2005: Two Suspects In Missing Couple's Murders Extradited
- August 12, 2005: Missing Couple Murder Suspects To Be Tried In Florida
- July 26, 2005: Police: Missing Couple's Graves Dug Several Days Before Being Buried Alive
- July 20, 2005: Medical Examiner: Missing Couple Buried Alive
- July 19, 2005: Family: Missing Couple's Kindness Led To Their Believed Death
- July 17, 2005: Police Recover Bodies Believed To Be Missing Couple
- July 16, 2005: Police: Missing Couple Believed Dead
- July 15, 2005: Police Speaking With 'Persons Of Interest' In Search For Missing Couple
- July 13, 2005: Police Suspect Foul Play In Missing Handicapped Couple's Disappearance
- July 13, 2005: Missing Couple Feared Victims Of Foul Play
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