Jury finds Rivera guilty on all
January 24, 2004
Mr. Rivera expressed outrage that
his Richmond County Superior Court death penalty trial would continue to
a sentencing phase today.
But the trial must continue because the jury that
determined he is a rapist and murderer must now determine his punishment
for killing Army Sgt. Marni Glista.
"This is a joke. This is a circus here," Mr. Rivera,
40, railed Friday afternoon in Richmond County Superior Court, where
less than an hour earlier, the jury rejected the defense's plea for a
guilty but mentally ill verdict after nearly three hours of
On each of the 14 counts in the indictment, the jury
wrote not just "guilty," but "guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."
Mr. Rivera faces a death sentence or a sentence of
life in prison with or without the possibility of parole for killing the
"This trial must go forward," Judge Albert M. Pickett
told Mr. Rivera.
During a series of questions and answers while the
jury waited in the deliberation room, Judge Pickett once again told Mr.
Rivera that he had the right to testify, to be his own co-counsel and to
tell the jury he wanted a death sentence.
Judge Pickett said Mr. Rivera has the right to make
an opening statement to the jury this morning and skip the remainder of
his trial. But he cannot prevent his defense attorneys Peter Johnson and
Jacque Hawk from presenting evidence to persuade the jury to impose a
sentence of life, the judge said.
"I'm really confused about what I'm supposed to do,"
Mr. Hawk told the judge. As an attorney, his duty is to act in a
client's best interest, but there's the duty also to follow the client's
wishes, he said.
Mr. Rivera said he will make his statement to the
jury and then return to his jail cell for the remainder of his trial.
What he really wants, Mr. Rivera told the judge, is
to tell the jury what a liar District Attorney Danny Craig is. At the
beginning, middle and end of the day's proceedings, Mr. Rivera ranted
about the closing arguments Mr. Craig made Thursday.
In statements to investigators and in testimony
before the jury this week, Mr. Rivera described himself as a sex addict,
a man living a double life with a bad side that led him to repeated
attempts to deceive women with a phony story about being a professional
photographer. He confessed he raped and killed Sgt. Glista in September
2000, killed three other woman and tried to kill one last victim.
But Mr. Craig argued to jurors that they shouldn't
believe everything that comes out of the mouth of the man doctors
described as a sadistic psychopath. Instead of a sex addict who seduced
women with promises of modeling, Mr. Craig described Mr. Rivera as a
murderous rapist who stalked and abducted each of the four homicide
Mr. Rivera bitterly complained about Mr. Craig's
interpretation of the evidence, and about Mr. Craig's seeking an
indictment against him in Columbia County in the death of 17-year-old
Tabitha Bosdell, even though he has repeatedly said he killed the
teenager in Richmond County on June 29, 2000.
"If he can't kill me in Richmond County he thinks he
can kill me in Columbia County. He wants a second shot at me," Mr.
Rivera complained to the judge.
Murder charges, Mr. Craig has explained since
obtaining the indictments against Mr. Rivera in both counties, are
lodged in the county where a body is found.
Mr. Rivera's desire to "get it over with" probably
won't be granted anytime soon. Mr. Craig has said that regardless of the
sentence imposed in Richmond County, he also will try Mr. Rivera in
South Carolina 2nd Circuit Solicitor Barbara Morgan
has said she will try Mr. Rivera in Aiken County in the sexual assaults
and slayings of Melissa Dingess, 17, and Tiffaney S. Wilson, 17. The
teenagers disappeared in July and December 1999.
In Richmond County, Mr. Rivera will be sentenced by
the jury for the murder of Sgt. Glista and for his October 2000 attack
on Chrisilee Barton.
Judge Pickett will have to impose sentences for the
remaining guilty verdicts returned by the jury Friday - three counts of
rape, four counts of aggravated sodomy, four counts of aggravated
assault, and one count each of burglary and possession of a knife during
the commission of a crime.
Death Penalty Rules
Georgia law strictly governs how death penalty trials
are conducted.The law requires the trial to be conducted in two phases:
During the first, a jury is
restricted to considering only the guilt or innocence of the accused.
If the jury convicts, a second
phase, the penalty phase, takes place. Attorneys again make opening and
closing statements and present evidence. At the end, the jury is asked
to decide punishment - life in prison with or without the possibility of
parole, or death.
To impose death or life in prison without parole, the
jury must find the prosecutor has proven at least one of the state's
statutory aggravating factors beyond a reasonable doubt. The verdict
must be unanimous.
Jury gives Rivera death
January 27, 2004
Reinaldo Rivera got what he asked
After nearly eight hours of
deliberations on his sentence, a Richmond County Superior Court jury
found Mr. Rivera should die for the brutal killing of Army Sgt. Marni
Immediately after the 12 jurors were asked if that
was their individual verdicts, and they responded yes, Judge Albert M.
Pickett officially imposed the death sentence and set Mr. Rivera's
execution date for between March 3 and 9.
An appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court is automatic.
Given one last chance to make a statement before
Judge Pickett imposed the sentence, Mr. Rivera - who had repeatedly
given long speeches during the three-week trial - had one short
For the families of Sgt. Glista and the other three
women Mr. Rivera confessed to killing, Monday night's verdict was an
"I've waited for 3 1/2 years for this and I am just
so thankful that the jurors saw to it to bring justice," said Gloria
Perius, Sgt. Glista's mother who traveled from Seattle to attend the
trial with her sister, daughter and husband.
To sentence Mr. Rivera to death, jurors must find
prosecutors have proven beyond a reasonable doubt at least one of three
aggravating circumstances: that Mr. Rivera caused Sgt. Glista's death in
conjunction with her rape; that Mr. Rivera murdered Sgt. Glista while
committing aggravated battery; and Sgt. Glista's slaying was
outrageously or wantonly vile, horrible or inhuman. The jurors found all
Mr. Rivera admitted to killing Sgt. Glista in
September 2000; Tabitha Bosdell, 17, on June 29, 2000; Tiffaney S.
Wilson, 17, on Dec. 4, 1999; and Melissa Dingess, 17, on July 17, 1999,
and the sexual assault of Chrisilee Barton that nearly proved fatal Oct.
Rivera gets long term
Tempers flare; judge gives maximum
February 12, 2004
Reinaldo Rivera, already under a
death sentence for murder, was sentenced Thursday to seven life
sentences plus 105 years in prison for all of his other Augusta crimes.
Before Judge Albert M. Pickett imposed the maximum
punishment possible for crimes related to the rapes of three women, two
of whom were slain afterward, tempers flared as Mr. Rivera's defense
attorneys attempted to present motions over his objections and the judge
berated them for trying.
"There's nothing I have against my attorneys. They're
excellent attorneys," Mr. Rivera said of Peter Johnson and Jacque Hawk,
whom he asked the judge to restrain from filing motions on his behalf.
Mr. Rivera, 40, has insisted, even to the Richmond
County Superior Court jury that convicted him, that he wanted death. A
jury unanimously voted for death after finding that Mr. Rivera murdered
21-year-old Army Sgt. Marni Glista.
"I think he's mentally ill," Mr. Johnson said of his
client and asked the judge to let him and Mr. Hawk present the motions
challenging the constitutionality of Georgia's method of execution.
As Mr. Johnson continued his argument that the
defense case proved Mr. Rivera mentally ill if not by the legal standard,
the father of one of Mr. Rivera's victims stood up and was removed from
Mr. Hawk argued that if Mr. Rivera wants the state to
put him to death, then at least it should be done in a humane manner.
The lethal injection procedure Georgia uses has been
banned in 19 states as inhumane euthanasia for animals, Mr. Hawk said.
But Judge Pickett said the attorneys had to have
known that information was developing and should have given him notice.
Perhaps, Mr. Johnson said, Mr. Rivera had received
ineffective assistance of counsel.
"Oh, that's sweet. That's bootstrap," Judge Pickett
responded to Mr. Johnson's reference to ineffective assistance, a reason
cited by appeal courts to reverse convictions.
Judge Pickett rejected the motions to find the death
Asked if he had anything to say before sentence was
imposed, Mr. Johnson responded that speculation Mr. Rivera might have
killed more than four women was false.
"There's nobody else," Mr. Rivera said.
For the Sept. 4, 2000, attack on Sgt. Glista, Judge
Pickett sentenced Mr. Rivera to life for rape, life for each of two
counts of aggravated sodomy, and 20 years for aggravated assault.
For the June 29, 2000, attack on Tabitha L. Bosdell
in Augusta, Judge Pickett sentenced Mr. Rivera to life for rape, life
for aggravated sodomy and 20 years for aggravated assault. After his
arrest, Mr. Rivera led investigators to Columbia County to find the body
of the 17-year-old foster child.
For the Oct. 10, 2000, attack on Chrisilee Barton,
who was 18 at the time, Judge Pickett sentenced Mr. Rivera to life for
rape, life for aggravated sodomy, 20 years for burglary, 20 years for
each of two counts of aggravated assault, and five years for possession
of a knife during the commission of a crime.
The death sentence and prison sentences are to be consecutive, Judge
In all, a Richmond County Superior Court jury convicted Mr. Rivera of
14 crimes related to the attacks Jan. 23.
Richmond County is finished with Mr. Rivera, but he still faces
charges in Columbia County for Ms. Bosdell's slaying, and in Aiken
County, where he is accused of raping and killing two 17-year-olds -
Melissa Dingess and Tiffaney S. Wilson, who disappeared in July and
District Attorney Danny Craig said Thursday he will try Mr. Rivera in
Columbia County on capital murder charges in Ms. Bosdell's death,
possibly this summer or fall.
Mr. Rivera might also face capital murder trials in Aiken County in
Mrs. Dingess and Mrs. Wilson's deaths.
Rivera's attorneys try
to get killer new trial
Convicted serial killer
Reinaldo Rivera returned to Augusta from Georgia's death row for a
Almost two years have
passed since a Richmond County Superior Court jury convicted Mr. Rivera
of murder and sentenced him to death. He was back in court to attend a
hearing on a motion for a new trial, the first step in the appeal
As he has on numerous
occasions, Mr. Rivera objected to any appeal work on his behalf. On
Monday, his objections started before defense attorney Peter Johnson
could finish speaking a complete sentence.
Senior Judge Albert M.
Pickett explained to Mr. Rivera that the law mandates the completion of
a motion for a new trial and appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court.
"The law insists on the
clarification of your conviction," he said. "It's truly bigger than
After hearing arguments,
the judge gave attorneys two weeks to file written arguments. He did not
indicate when he might issue a ruling.
Mr. Rivera confessed
that he raped and murdered four women and attempted to kill a fifth
before he was arrested. However, he has only been tried for the brutal
slaying of Army Sgt.
Marni Glista and the
sexual assaults of two other women.
Sgt. Glista, 21, was
attacked inside her west Augusta home Sept. 4, 2000. She died several
days later when life support was disconnected.
Over Mr. Rivera's
objection Monday, Mr. Johnson and attorney Jacque Hawk argued that
several errors occurred during Mr. Rivera's trial.
Among those alleged
errors was the judge's ruling to allow prosecutors to present evidence
of the South Carolina killings of Melissa Dingess and Tiffaney Wilson,
and the Columbia County slaying of Tabitha Bosdell. Each girl was 17.
Mr. Johnson also
contended that the judge improperly allowed Mr. Rivera to serve as his
own attorney. It seriously hampered the defense, Mr. Johnson said.
"When I tell people
about this trial, I say the defense fought with the court, the defense
fought with the district attorney, and the defense fought with Reinaldo
Rivera," he said.
District Attorney Danny
Craig countered the defense's allegations, saying many of the issues
were dealt with properly before the trial began.
Mr. Rivera had the
right, as every defendant does, to represent himself, Mr. Craig said.
"This defendant got
pretty much whatever he wanted," he said. The problem was he kept
changing his mind, Mr. Craig said.