JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Duval County jury late Friday convicted a 25-year-old woman of first-degree murder for her role in the deaths of a St. Nicholas couple, whose bodies were found in a shallow grave in Charlton County, Ga.
After a week-long trial, it took only 90 minutes for the jury to find Tiffany Cole guilty of two counts of murder in the deaths of Carol and Reggie Sumner. Prosecutors said they were taken from their home in July 2005, forced to turn over the access number to their ATM card, then buried alive.
Cole was also found guilty of two counts of kidnapping and two counts of robbery.
Prosecutors said they will seek the death penalty for Cole.
"This one deserves to suffer. She deserves to pay the ultimate price, I think," said Carol Sumner's son, Fred Hallock, as he left the courtroom. "Anybody (who) wants to feel sorry for this woman, all they need to do as look at the pictures of them taking them out of that grave."
The verdict came hours after Cole testified that she was a part of a scheme to rob the husband and wife, but had no idea the husband and wife were to be killed.
Four people were arrested and charged in the case.
Michael Jackson was convicted in May of first-degree murder in this case and sentenced to death. Bruce Nixon pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is awaiting sentencing. Alan Wade is scheduled to go on trial next week.
In the course of her two-hour testimony, Cole told the court that she thought they were only going to steal from the Sumners. When she found out a shallow grave was dug for the couple, she said she was shocked.
"Michael Jackson got the PIN codes and then he pushed them in the hole," Cole testified under questioning by her attorney.
"You're hanging out with this guy for a month and the next thing you know he's just abducting someone and kidnapping someone and burying them in a hole, and your just unlucky enough to be with him, right?," prosecutor Jay Plotkin during cross examination.
"That's right," Cole replied.
Earlier in the trial, prosecutors made the case that Cole was the connection between all four defendants and the victims. Cole was a neighbor of the Sumners in South Carolina before they moved to Jacksonville and investigators said she befriended the couple, then brought in her friends to commit the crime.
Cole was the last witness in the trial.
In closing arguments, prosecutors told the jury that Cole was present when the grave was dug two days before the Sumners were abducted.
Defense attorneys maintained that Cole did not know Jackson, her boyfriend, planned to kill the couple.
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