The state’s initial assault on the final appeal filed by convicted serial killer Reinaldo Rivera has proved unsuccessful.
Attorneys at the Georgia attorney general’s office filed a motion asking the judge to dismiss Rivera’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Such a writ orders a person in custody to be brought before a court.
The attorneys contend that Rivera missed a one-year deadline to appeal the Georgia Supreme Court’s ruling that affirmed his 2004 conviction and death sentence.
In an order filed Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge J. Randal Hall wrote that Rivera had not missed the deadline because an attorney filed a state habeas corpus petition for him, even though Rivera wrote to the court that he was abandoning all appeals.
Rivera’s case has continued to be appealed since his January 2004 conviction and death sentence for the rape and murder of 21-year-old Army Sgt. Marni Glista.
Although Rivera stood trial only for Glista’s death on Sept. 9, 2000, he confessed to the rapes and slayings of Melissa Dingess on July 17, 1999; Tiffany S. Wilson on Dec. 4, 1999; and Tabitha Bosdell on June 29, 2000. The victims were 17 when they crossed Rivera’s path.
An Augusta 18-year-old was to be Rivera’s fifth victim on Oct. 10, 2000, but she survived the sexual assault, strangulation and stabbing.
Rivera confessed to the crimes and led sheriff’s investigators to the remains of Dingess in Aiken County and Bosdell in Columbia County.
He contended from the time of his arrest that he expected a death sentence. He insisted on telling the jurors – over his attorneys’ objections – that he wanted a death sentence. He vowed to abandon any appeal after the mandatory appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court, but his appeals continued.
Rivera’s federal habeas corpus petition was filed in September.