Rivera's execution appeal denied

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Reinaldo Rivera has confessed to several rapes and murders.

The Georgia Supreme Court upheld Reinaldo Rivera's conviction and death sentence Monday.

 

It's now up to the serial killer who left a string of victims in the Augusta area to decide whether he will appeal further.

Since his arrest in October 2000, Mr. Rivera has repeatedly said he wanted to die for his crimes. He even asked a Richmond County Superior Court jury to give him a death sentence, and it did.

Mr. Rivera was sentenced to die for the September 2000 rape and murder of Marni Glista, a 21-year-old Army sergeant stationed at Fort Gordon.

"You can say I am thrilled and elated," said Wendy Knopp, Sgt. Glista's sister, on Monday. Mrs. Knopp, from Washington state, said her family is anxious to reach the final step.

Sgt. Glista was found Sept. 4, 2000, barely alive in her Augusta home. She died five days later after doctors declared her brain dead and disconnected the life support.

Mr. Rivera, 43, later confessed to Sgt. Glista's murder, three other slayings and the Oct. 10, 2000, attempted murder of a teenager.

"The opinion is a welcome conclusion to a tragic chapter in our community's history," District Attorney Danny Craig wrote in an e-mail Monday.

Mr. Craig and Assistant District Attorney Ashley Wright prosecuted Mr. Rivera in Augusta. Murder charges are pending in Columbia County, where the remains of Tabitha Bosdell were found, and in Aiken County, where the remains of Tiffaney S. Wilson and Melissa Dingess were found.

Evidence of the four killings was introduced at Mr. Rivera's trial in January 2004. That was one of the perceived errors defense attorneys Peter Johnson and Jacque Hawk noted in Mr. Rivera's appeal.

The Supreme Court, however, ruled that challenge and several other issues did not amount to unfair treatment.

The court also rejected the defense attorneys' complaint that it was wrong for the judge to allow Mr. Rivera to take over his defense and tell the jury he wanted death.

"I couldn't stop before, and I still can't stop," Mr. Rivera testified at his trial.

"I just still fantasize about, about hurting people ... I fantasize about still hurting the same girls that I killed. That's how disturbing it is."

Neither Mr. Johnson nor Mr. Hawk returned telephone calls Monday.

Mr. Rivera, a father of two who worked at the Bridgestone/Firestone plant, told investigators he had raped many women in his life. He began killing in the Augusta area because he was afraid he would be caught.

Mrs. Dingess, 17, was the first to die July 17, 1999, after disappearing from her Graniteville home.

Mrs. Wilson, 17, died Dec. 4, 1999, after encountering Mr. Rivera at a North Augusta shopping center where she had taken her infant daughter for a Christmas photograph. The baby was later found unharmed.

Ms. Bosdell, 17, disappeared June 29, 2000, on her way to a job interview. As with Mrs. Dingess, investigators learned where to find her remains from Mr. Rivera.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.