JACKSONVILLE — It was an emotional day at the Duval County courthouse.
Alan Wade, who was once given the death penalty for burying a couple alive in 2005, showed up for his resentencing hearing.
Some of Wade’s relatives, including his niece, took the stand.
“Is it fair to say you saw in your uncle the capacity for good?” an attorney asked. “I still do,” Wade’s niece responded.
Wade’s mother’s testimony painted the picture of a dark childhood riddled with his parents’ early divorce, financial struggles, several moves, failing in school, a suicide threat and drug problems. She described her son in his early years as a kind-hearted and a “sweet little kid”.
According to Wade’s mother, he was hardened by life as it got harder. “I know he thinks I didn’t love him, I tried, I mean I love him, he doesn’t understand I depended on him to be the strong one and that was wrong of me. I threatened to kick him out, never dreaming that he would go,” she said. “I felt like I didn’t have a choice. Worst decision I ever made in my life, and I’ll regret it until the day I die.”
In the July murder of 2005, 61-year-olds Reggie and Carol Sumner were bound by duct tape, driven to Georgia, and buried alive.
Wade was 18 at the time of the murders.
In court Wednesday, Wade gave up his fifth amendment right to apologize, first addressing the late couple:
“Nothing I say is meant to justify excuse or defend my crimes. If there’s a window or connection to the afterlife or some sort of consciousness, I hope you can see my tremendous regret and shame in my heart. Every day I’m tormented by my cruel and careless actions against you. I should’ve helped instead of hurt you. I’m sorry for my senseless, unprovoked, undeserved actions against you. This is the most passionate regret and biggest mistake of my life. I’m also sorry for the pain and loss I’ve caused the Sumner family and friends, I’m sorry for the dishonor and disrespect I’ve shown both families and my own.”
Wade described how he’s become a new man since the arrest, adding that philosophy books changed his outlook on life. “I can promise that the person capable of doing these things no longer exists. I’ve dedicated my life to being virtuous, devoted, and loving. None of this is meant to justify or defend my inexcusable crimes.”
Wade is one of four total co-defendants, including Michael Jackson and Tiffany Cole, who is also awaiting resentencing after previously receiving the death sentence, and Bruce Nixon, who took a plea deal and is serving a 45-year sentence.
Court will resume at 9 a.m. Thursday morning for closing arguments and charges will be decided whether Wade deserves to be re-sentenced to death, or handed a life sentence in prison.
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