4th Defendant Found Guilty Of Double Murder
Updated On: Oct 25 2007 07:31:40 AM EDT
A Duval County jury late Wednesday convicted a 20-year-old man of two counts of first-degree murder, kidnapping and robbery in the deaths of a husband and wife more than two years ago.
Alan Wade is the fourth person charged in the case and his attorney argued that he was brought in by the other three after Carol and Reggie Sumner were kidnapped from their St. Nicholas home, forced them to give up their credit cards and ATM code, then buried alive in Charlton County in July 2005.
But after about one hour of deliberations, the jury found Wade guilty on all charges.
Last Friday, a jury found Tiffany Cole guilty of first-degree murder and other charges for her role in the slayings. Last May, Cole's boyfriend, Michael Jackson, was also convicted of first-degree murder.
Bruce Nixon pleaded guilty to second-degree murder after leading police to the Sumners bodies and has testified against the other three. He is awaiting sentencing.
"It hurts to see these young people's lives destroyed, but ... we've suffered horribly," said the Rev. Jean Clark, Reggie Sumner's sister. "When you do something wrong, you've got to pay the price."
Prosecutors said the four defendants hatched the plan to kidnap and kill the couple so they could steal their money. In opening statements, the state said they all knew the plan and dug a grave for the couple in Charlton County, Ga., two days before Wade knocked on the couple's door and asked to use their phone.
According to prosecutors, Wade pulled the cord out of the wall and grabbed Reggie Sumner around the neck to begin the violent chain of events.
Among the witnesses who testified against Wade was his own mother, who said she regretted kicking her son out of the house when she knew he was troubled.
"Looking back, I had a 17-year-old boy hooked on drugs being manipulated by a very unstable person," Frieda Ganey testified. "I regret to this day that I let that boy out of my sight."
Defense attorneys argued that Wade wasn't involved until after the killings. They claim that Nixon, the prosecutor's star witness, lied about the others' involvement to get himself a plea deal.
Wade's attorneys said he got involved after the killings, helping use the information stolen from the couple to steal more money.
"Alan Wade is guilty of being an accessory and using the proceeds of Michael Jackson and Tiffany Cole's and Bruce Nixon's ill-gotten goods," attorney Refik Eler said. "But he's not charged with that. He's charged with the actual robbery, the actual kidnapping and the actual killing of those people."
The jury disagreed, convicting Wade. They will be back Nov. 15 for the penalty phase of the trial. Prosecutors said they will seek the death penalty.
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