Sister of murdered man reacts to new trial request

Woman on death row appealing murder conviction over ineffective attorneys

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A woman sitting on death row for the 2005 kidnapping and murder of a Jacksonville couple will go before the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday.

Tiffany Cole, 33, will be asking for a new trial after appealing that the attorneys who represented her at the time were ineffective.

Cole was one of three people convicted in the case. Alan Wade, and Cole's boyfriend, Michael Jackson, the man believed to be the mastermind of the crime, are also sitting on death row. A third man, Bruce Nixon, testified against the others and is 45-years in prison.

Prosecutors said the group kidnapped, robbed and buried Carol and Reggie Sumner alive in Charlton County, Georgia.

Reverend Jean Clark, the sister of Reggie Sumner, believes Cole not only got a fair trial, but she believes the lawyers who represented Cole were more than competent. Clark also asks that people remember Reggie Sumner, and his wife, Carol, not Cole. 


"We believe that they got a fair trial. And we believe that they got the right, you know, what was due to them," Clark said.

For Clark, the last 10 years have been very hard and very painful. Every day, she thinks about her brother and his wife. Still, her thoughts are never far from the four people involved with their murders and the woman now asking for a new trial.

"Most people are going to try to come back with something like that after the fact, because they're going to try to find a loophole and get off. But justice has a voice, and justice has to be served," Clark said.

According to police, Cole knew the Sumners and had even bought a car from them. They say she provided the link to the couple who were kidnapped, robbed and murdered, their bodies found in a shallow grave in Georgia.

Photos taken after the murder from inside a rented limo show the group enjoying the money they stole, unconcerned with the two lives that had just been lost.

But during her trial Cole pointed the finger of blame at her boyfriend, Jackson.

"But please remember, I didn't do this. I am not the monster that created this, but I regret meeting him," Cole said, talking about Jackson.

For Clark, the thought of possibly going through another trial weighs heavily on her heart, and undoubtedly, on the hearts of many others who loved the Sumners.

"I have family members that are still not the same and never will be the same. In fact, I don't like to involve them too much into things like this, because they can't deal with it," Clark said.

Clark remembers the Sumners as a couple very much in love, who would do anything for anybody and all she wants is justice.

"And as I sat in a court room one day, I saw the ground open, and I saw in it a hurtling scream come out. And the blood of my brother and sister-in-law, my brother, Reggie, and my sister-in-law, Carol, cried out for justice. Justice has a voice," Clark said.

Cole's hearing before the Florida Supreme Court begins Thursday at 11:30 a.m. and News4Jax will be at the courtroom.

About the Author: