Tiffany Cole

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Tiffany Cole
Tiffany Cole.jpg
Born
Tiffany Ann Cole

(1981-12-03) December 3, 1981 (age 39)
Criminal statusIncarcerated on death row at Lowell Correctional Institution Annex
Conviction(s)Kidnapping, first-degree murder, robbery
Criminal penaltyDeath (March 17, 2008)—awaiting retrial
Date apprehended
July 2005

Tiffany Ann Cole (born December 3, 1981) is an American convicted murderer who was found guilty of the kidnapping and first-degree murder of a Duval County, Florida, husband and wife and sentenced to death. Also found guilty in the case were three men: Alan Wade, Bruce Nixon, and Cole's boyfriend Michael Jackson. Prosecutors said Cole and the three men developed a plan to kidnap and kill the couple to steal their money, and dug a grave for them in Charlton County, Georgia, two days before knocking on their door and asking to use the phone.[1] As of February 2015, Cole is the third youngest woman on death row in the United States;[2] she was 26 at the time of her conviction.

Crime[edit]

Tiffany Cole was a familiar face to Carol and Reggie Sumner, since her family had been neighbors to the 61-year-old couple in South Carolina. When the Sumners moved to Jacksonville, Florida, in March 2005, they sold a car to Cole. Cole agreed to make monthly payments and often drove with friends to Jacksonville in order to do so.

In June 2005, Cole and her new boyfriend, Michael Jackson, drove to Jacksonville to complete the paperwork on the car. While there, they stayed at the Sumner home. It was while staying with the couple that Jackson began hatching a plan to rob the couple and steal money from their bank accounts.[3]

Early the next month, in July 2005, the plan was put into action. Tiffany Cole, Michael Jackson and two other men, Alan Wade and Bruce Nixon, drove to the Sumners' home. Wade and Nixon went to the door and asked to use the phone. Once inside, Wade and Nixon attacked. The Sumners were bound and gagged with duct tape, put into the trunk of their Lincoln town car and driven across the border to a remote part of Georgia. Cole and Jackson travelled separately in their car, planning to get deliberately pulled over for speeding if police got too close to the Lincoln. Once in Georgia, the Sumners were forced to reveal the personal identification numbers of their bank accounts. The couple, blindfolded and bound, were then pushed into a pre-dug grave and buried alive by Wade and Nixon.[4][5]

Cole subsequently pawned jewelry and other items stolen from the Sumners' home,[6] and the ATM card was used to obtain more than $1000 in cash. Three of the group were tracked back to a hotel in South Carolina by the use of the ATM card and arrested there. After being arrested Nixon willingly led police to the Sumners' grave, revealing that both victims had managed to free themselves of their bonds, but could only manage to hug each other in their final moments before they died.[citation needed]

Conviction[edit]

At Cole's week-long trial in October 2007, the jury deliberated for less than 90 minutes before finding her guilty of first-degree murder.[7] They voted 9-3 that she should receive the death penalty.[4] Evidence included photos of Cole and two co-defendants in a limousine, celebrating with champagne and handfuls of cash.

Five months later, a judge handed down two death sentences for the murders, and a sentence of life in prison for the kidnappings. She awaits execution at Lowell Correctional Institution Annex.[8]

Cole is one of three women currently on Florida's death row, the others being Margaret Allen and Tina Brown, both sentenced to death in unrelated murders.[9][10]

Wade and Jackson also received death sentences. Nixon, who had led police to the bodies and testified against the others, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 45 years in prison.

In 2017, the Florida Supreme Court ordered new sentencing hearings for Cole, Wade, and Jackson, because their juries had not unanimously recommended the death penalty.[11] A 2016 U.S Supreme Court ruling, Hurst v. Florida, found that Florida's prior law permitting non-unanimous jury verdicts in death penalty cases violated the Sixth Amendment,[12] prompting Florida to resentence more than 150 convicted felons.[13][14]

Documentaries[edit]

Because of the brutality and notoriety of the case and the fact that one of the perpetrators was a young woman later sentenced to death the case has been a subject of several TV documentaries, including the second season, third episode of Your Worst Nightmare, as well as an hour-long interview of Tiffany Cole and Emilia Carr with Diane Sawyer for 20/20 in 2015 and Wicked Attraction, "Good Deeds Punished" in 2010.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Mom Testifies Against Son In Murder Trial | News - Home". News4jax.com. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved 2013-03-24.
  2. ^ Battiste, Nikki; Weinraub, Claire; Scott, Tess; Effron, Lauren (24 February 2015). "'We Call It Life Row': Two of the Youngest US Women on Death Row Describe Life Behind Bars". ABC News. Archived from the original on 13 February 2016. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
  3. ^ Smith, Glenn (30 May 2007). "Shockingly evil". The Post and Courier. Archived from the original on 30 November 2017. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Jury Finds Tiffany Cole Guilty In Double Murder | News - Home". News4jax.com. Archived from the original on January 24, 2010. Retrieved 2013-03-24.
  5. ^ "Local News | Jacksonville, FL - St. Augustine, FL - Brunswick, GA". Firstcoastnews.com. Archived from the original on 2012-07-30. Retrieved 2013-03-24.
  6. ^ Paul Pinkham. "Female murderer Cole receives death sentence". Jacksonville.com. Archived from the original on August 3, 2011. Retrieved 2013-03-24.
  7. ^ WJXT. "Jury Finds Tiffany Cole Guilty In Double Murder - News - Home". News4Jax. Archived from the original on November 6, 2014. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  8. ^ "Tiffany Cole sentenced to death, becomes only woman in Florida on death row - Video Dailymotion". Dailymotion.com. 2011-04-14. Archived from the original on February 1, 2012. Retrieved 2013-03-24.
  9. ^ "Spotlight: The Women on Florida's Death Row – Crime Library". Trutv.com. 2012-12-27. Archived from the original on December 31, 2012. Retrieved 2013-03-24.
  10. ^ "Tina Brown: Panhandle woman sentenced to dealth [sic] penalty for teen's murder". Wptv.com. 2012-09-29. Archived from the original on November 15, 2012. Retrieved 2013-03-24.
  11. ^ "Death sentence thrown out in murders of couple buried alive". June 29, 2017. Archived from the original on November 16, 2017.
  12. ^ "Hurst v. Florida". Oyez. Archived from the original on 2019-08-30. Retrieved 2019-08-30.
  13. ^ "SCOTUS' Unanimous Death-Penalty Jury Verdict Decision Affecting Florida Cases | Criminal Legal News". www.criminallegalnews.org. Archived from the original on 2019-08-30. Retrieved 2019-08-30.
  14. ^ "Florida Supreme Court Reaffirms Decision to Deny Relief for Unconstitutional Sentences Issued Prior to 2002". American Bar Association. December 1, 2017. Retrieved August 30, 2019.

External links[edit]