A jury has decided that a woman should be put to death for killing a retired Florida couple who were buried alive.
The jury deliberated for about 40 minutes on Thursday before reaching its decision on Tiffany Cole, 25, who was among four people charged in the slaying of Reggie and Carol Sumner, both 61.
The couple were found buried in a shallow grave in Georgia near the Florida state line in July 2005. Cole and the others used the Sumners’ bank card and PIN number to withdraw money from their bank account, prosecutors said.
Defense attorney Greg Messore had showed jurors more than 100 photos of Cole to illustrate that the killing was an aberration in an otherwise meritorious life. Two Duval County jail corrections officers described her as a model inmate who volunteers to clean the jail and pass out meals.
Circuit Judge Michael Weatherby has the final say in Cole’s sentencing, but Florida law says he must give great weight to the jury recommendation. Cole could be sentenced to life in prison without parole instead. A sentencing date has not been set.
Cole met the Sumners in Ladson, S.C., where her stepfather was their neighbor. The Sumners had recently moved to Jacksonville.
Also convicted in the crime were: Cole’s boyfriend, Michael Jackson, who has been sentenced to death; Alan Wade, for whom a jury has recommended the death penalty; and Bruce Kent Nixon, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, robbery and kidnapping after leading police to the bodies.
By agreeing to testify against the rest, Nixon avoided the death penalty and faces 52 years to life in prison.