JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Michael James Jackson, the ringleader of a group of four who buried a Jacksonville couple alive in 2007, will be resentenced this week.
It was a heinous crime that has been mentioned in several TV documentaries. The couple, both 61, were bound and buried alive in a shallow grave. When they were discovered by police, the couple had broken out of their binds but was only able to embrace before dying.
It was Jackson who prosecutors said had the idea for the crime. He was initially sentenced to death, along with co-defendants Alan Wade and Tiffany Cole. But a Florida law change that altered the requirement for a defendant to be sentenced to death allowed Jackson to appeal his original sentence.
This is the second time Jackson has appealed -- he asked for his case to be re-considered in 2009, but his conviction and sentence were upheld.
Jackson was supposed to be re-sentenced along with co-defendant Wade in June 2022. But a judge separated the two cases after an emotional outburst from Wade.
Wade began crying during jury selection, prompting Jackson's attorneys to ask that he be tried separately.
“I don’t see any alternative than simply reset Mr. Jackson’s [case] at some point,” Senior Judge Michael Weatherby said. He said he was skeptical anyway about the possibility of seating two juries from the remaining pool after two days of jury selection.
“I am concerned enough about the logistics of this that we are not going to get [two] jur[ies],” he said. “The emotional outburst is not the only reason I’m concerned.”
Wade was tried under an old law requiring a unanimous jury for death (and escaped a death sentence), but Jackson is being tried under a new law — which only requires a verdict of 8 to 4 for death.
If his case had been tried at the same time as Wade, it would have been harder for Jackson to be sentenced to the death penalty again.
Now, he stands a much greater chance of being sentenced to death than his codefendant.