Man convicted of burying couple alive

May 7, 2007, 10:56PM

Information source: Houston Chronicle

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jurors on Monday convicted a 24-year-old man in the slayings of a retired couple who were buried alive in rural Georgia.

Michael James Jackson faces life in prison or the death penalty in the deaths of Reggie and Carol Sumner, both 61. Their bodies were found in a shallow grave near the Florida state line in July 2005.

Jackson was convicted on charges of first-degree murder, robbery and kidnapping. Three others are also charged in the deaths.

One of them, Bruce Kent Nixon, 19, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, robbery and kidnapping after leading police to the bodies. He agreed to testify against Jackson, Alan Lyndell Wade, 19, and Jackson’s girlfriend, Tiffany Ann Cole, 25.

Nixon testified that Jackson was the planner. Jackson said in court that he was guilty of helping come up with the robbery plan, but said it was Nixon and Wade who killed the Sumners.

When Jackson saw the couple being buried alive and heard the wife moaning inside the pre-dug grave, Jackson said, he did not try to stop it because he was afraid he would be next.

Jackson later used the Sumners’ bank card and PIN number to withdraw money from their bank account, prosecutors said.

Nixon’s plea agreement allows him to avoid the death penalty. He faces 52 years to life in prison. Cole and Wade are awaiting trial.

“We’ve still got a long way to go, but were making progress,” said Jean Clark, Reggie Sumner’s sister. “It’s in the hands of God.”

Telephone message left by The Associated Press with prosecutors and Jackson’s attorney, Richard Kuritz, were not immediately returned.