Man Found Guilty In Couple's Abduction, Murder

Published On: Oct 14 2011 02:08:45 PM EDT
Updated On: May 07 2007 12:57:10 PM EDT
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

After three hours of deliberations, a Duval County jury finds Michael James Jackson guilty on all charges in the abduction and killing of Carol and Reggie Sumner nearly two years ago.

Channel 4's Dan Leveton said Jackson showed no emotion as the jury returned the verdict: guilty on two counts of first-degree murder, guilty on two counts of abduction and guilty on two counts of armed robbery.

The state has announced they intend to seek the death penalty against Jackson. The jury was asked to return May 30 for the penalty phase of the trial.

Prosecutors called Jackson the ringleader in kidnapping the Sumners and burying them alive in south Georgia in July 2005. One co-defendant has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder charges and is awaiting sentencing. First-degree murder charges are pending against two others.

The prosecution and defense finished their closing arguments on Friday after Jackson took the stand in his own defense -- admitting that he planned and took part in the robbery of a St. Nicholas couple, but denied that he had anything to do with killing them.

"I did not kidnap anybody," Jackson testified. "There's no way I'm going to allow you to pin that on me."

Jackson testified that he went with Bruce Nixon, Alan Wade and Tiffany Cole to the Sumners' house, but he stayed outside in the car, then followed the other three who had taken the Sumners' car.

Jackson claimed he did not know the couple was in the trunk. When they stopped in Charlton County, Ga., Jackson again claimed he stayed in the car and only realized the Sumners had been buried alive when he was asked to bring a flashlight to the three co-defendants.

But on cross-examination, Jackson was asked why he did didn't do anything to try and stop the killings.

"I'm not trying to be the next victim," Jackson said. "You don't look at two people that you're watching bury two people alive -- you don't do that. Next thing you know, I'm the next person in the hole."

The prosecution's case has relied heavily on the testimony of Nixon and recorded telephone calls and a videotape of Jackson's initial questioning by detectives.

Nixon testified last Thursday that Jackson was the mastermind behind the crime.

In his defense, Jackson told the jury it was Nixon who was the mastermind in the Sumners' deaths.

After Jackson's testimony, the defense rested and both sides delivered their closing arguments.

Assistant State Attorney Jay Plotkin told the jury that Jackson was the ringleader of a crime that resulted in two deaths.

"No one was kicking and dragging him in the dead night of crime," Plotkin said.

Jackson's attorney, Richard Kuritz, again blamed Nixon, saying he drove the couple's car and buried them.

Following the guilty verdict, the victims' relatives told Channel 4 they were grateful for the decision.

"My mom and Reggie were just the greatest people you could ever meet, and I just hope that everyone is -- I know they still have a couple trials to go -- I hope they're held accountable for what they did," said the victims' son, Frederick Hallock.

Wade and Cole are also charged with first-degree murder and are awaiting trial.

Nixon has pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder, kidnapping and armed robbery. He will not be sentenced until the prosecution of all the defendants is complete.

Jurors will return later this month to recommend whether Jackson should spend his life in prison or be put to death.

Previous Stories:

Comments

The views expressed below are not those of News4Jax or its affiliated companies. By clicking on "Post," you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Service and your comment is in compliance with such terms. Readers, please help keep this discussion respectful and on topic by flagging comments that are offensive or inappropriate (hover over the commenter's name and you'll see the flag option appear on right side of that line). And remember, respect goes both ways: Tolerance of others' opinions is important in a free discourse. If you're easily offended by strong opinions, you might skip reading comments entirely.

blog comments powered by Disqus