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Inmates on death row for Augusta-area murders work through various stages of appeals process

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Four men sentenced to die for Augusta-area murders continue to slog through the state's justice system as they await their fate.

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Reinaldo Rivera has a pending state habeas petition. There was a hearing in September, and the judge has allowed the parties to submit any new matters by Dec. 4. Rivera was sentenced to death for the Sept. 9, 2000, death of Army Sgt. Marni Glista, 21. Rivera confessed to raping and killing Glista; Tabita  Bosdell, 17; Melissa Gingess, 17; and Tiffaney Wilson, 17.  GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
Reinaldo Rivera has a pending state habeas petition. There was a hearing in September, and the judge has allowed the parties to submit any new matters by Dec. 4. Rivera was sentenced to death for the Sept. 9, 2000, death of Army Sgt. Marni Glista, 21. Rivera confessed to raping and killing Glista; Tabita Bosdell, 17; Melissa Gingess, 17; and Tiffaney Wilson, 17.


Robert O. Arrington, Reinaldo Rivera, Willie W. Palmer and Ernest U. Morrison are at various stages of appeal, according to court documents.

Morrison has been on death row the longest, after pleading guilty in October 1987 to raping and murdering Mary Edna Griffin earlier that year. His sentence was overturned in 2008 because of lack of effort by his defense attorney, who, according to a ruling, didn't even read the discovery in the case or attempt to find witnesses. He also demanded a death sentence for Morrison because he said that was what Morrison wanted.

His current attorneys are waiting to determine whether he will enter a plea or be retried, according to Richmond County District Attorney Ashley Wright.

Richard Dieter, of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, said ineffective counsel is often a reason for the delay in carrying out a death sentence. He cited the recent cases of two separate Alabama death row inmates, who were granted new trials after the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals found their lawyers were ineffective.

"There are really concerns that mistakes have been made sometimes with innocent defendants," Dieter said. "Sometimes you have to allow a second hearing, a new test, a hearing to discuss new evidence, just in case."

In an e-mail, Wright wrote that her staff continues to wait for a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on the appeal for Arrington, who was convicted in May 2004. The Georgia Supreme Court affirmed his conviction and sentence in November 2009. He was sentenced to death for the April 4, 2001, murder of 46-year-old Kathy Lynn Hutchens. He also killed his wife, Elizabeth, in 1986.

Palmer, convicted in a Burke County case, is also waiting on an appeal.

Palmer murdered his estranged wife, Brenda Palmer, 31, and stepdaughter, Christine Jenkins, 15, on Sept. 10, 1995.

Palmer was granted a second trial by the Georgia Supreme Court in November 2005. He was retried, found guilty and the death sentence was reinstated in August 2007. Now, attorneys are waiting for a direct appeal to be filed to the Georgia Supreme Court.

Dieter said this is another reason carrying out the sentence can take so long.

"Then the appeals start all over again," he said. "If you get a new death sentence, your appeal of that sentence starts day one."

Perhaps the best known of the local cases is that of serial killer Rivera, who was sentenced to death Sept. 9, 2000, for killing 21-year-old Army Sgt. Marni Glista. Rivera later admitting to raping and killing three other young women.

His appellate hearings have been assigned to a judge in the middle Georgia Towaliga Judicial Circuit, Wright said. Oral testimony and arguments have already been given.

Wright said delays in carrying out death sentences include a lack of incentive for the defendants to hurry their filings. If an attorney misses a deadline, he gets an extension, she said.

"Judges are supposed to rule on all motions within a set period of time; not all do. Last-minute appeals are the norm."

Delays, spiraling costs and dwindling numbers of executions nationwide are reasons Dieter said he thinks the death penalty's days are numbered. He cites dropping numbers of executions nationwide, recent efforts by states including New York and New Jersey to outlaw the penalty, and the number of cases overturned by DNA evidence.

"So you get the sense this is an issue whose time has come for different countries in different years," he said.

On death row

ROBERT O. ARRINGTON

CONVICTED: May 6, 2004, in the April 4, 2001 murder of 46-year-old Kathy Lynn Hutchens; he also killed his wife, Elizabeth, in 1986.

SENTENCED: May 10, 2004

AFFIDAVIT BY GEORGIA SUPREME COURT: Nov. 9, 2009

STATUS: Awaiting decision by the U.S. Supreme Court for his appeal.

REINALDO RIVERA

CONVICTED: Jan. 23. 2004; he confessed to raping and killing Army Sgt. Marni Glista, 21; Tabitha Bosdell, 17; Melissa Dingess, 17; and Tiffaney Wilson, 17.

SENTENCED: Jan. 26, 2004

AFFIDAVIT BY GEORGIA SUPREME COURT: June 25, 2007

STATUS: Oral testimony and arguments given in appeal.

WILLIE W. PALMER

CONVICTED: Nov. 7, 1997, in the murder of his estranged wife, Brenda, and stepdaughter, Christine Jenkins

SENTENCED: Nov. 8, 1997

CONVICTED AGAIN: Aug. 23, 2007

RESENTENCED: Aug. 24, 2007

AFFIDAVIT BY GEORGIA SUPREME COURT: May 28, 1999

STATUS: His direct appeal has not been filed.

ERNEST U. MORRISON

PLEADED GUILTY: Oct. 30, 1987

SENTENCED: Nov. 2, 1987, for the Jan. 9, 1987, rape, robbery and murder of a family acquaintance, Mary Edna Griffin, 54

AFFIDAVIT BY GEORGIA SUPREME COURT: July 11, 2003

STATUS: Waiting on whether he will be retried or enter a plea.

-- From staff reports

Comments (18) Add comment
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Suzy Q
1
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Suzy Q 10/11/10 - 01:09 am
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One of these convictions was

One of these convictions was in 1987 and this scum is still sitting on death row? It's little wonder that states are going broke when the legal system (actually sounds more like a racket then a system) can drain funds keeping a convicted murderer alive for 20+ years.

I wonder how many appeals their victims got?

RAWR
0
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RAWR 10/11/10 - 02:07 am
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Reinaldo Rivera gave

Reinaldo Rivera gave testimony that only he would have known and still he sits on death row. He should've been executed immediately. The Justice system is a sad joke.

RAWR
0
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RAWR 10/11/10 - 02:12 am
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Adam Folk you should have

Adam Folk you should have more respect for the deceased and spell their names correctly. Especially when their names are stored in the Archives.

Riveras victims were : Marni Glista, Tabatha Bosdell, Melissa Dingess and Tiffany Wilson.

Dixieman
15896
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Dixieman 10/11/10 - 04:50 am
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Operation Bootstrap: Death

Operation Bootstrap: Death penalty opponents and their lawyers delay and delay and delay and delay on any tiny ground they can find, then complain that it is unconstitutional to delay death penalty too long, or the tater tots in the convict's last meal were only lukewarm, or something.
One State appeal, one Federal appeal, then carry out the sentence.

johnston.cliff
2
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johnston.cliff 10/11/10 - 05:09 am
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Simple, to the point. If

Simple, to the point. If convicted and sentenced to death, execution date is 365 days from sentence date. As many appeals as can be squeezed in should be allowed before execution, as long as the 365 day limit isn't exceeded. Anything else is cruel and unusual punishment for the future corpse and the taxpayers.

corgimom
33953
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corgimom 10/11/10 - 05:59 am
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Riveras KNOWN victims were :

Riveras KNOWN victims were : Marni Glista, Tabatha Bosdell, Melissa Dingess and Tiffany Wilson.

I think there were more.

And don't forget the attempted murder of the 17 year old whose throat he cut.

I'd give him the black needle myself.

Junket831
0
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Junket831 10/11/10 - 07:50 am
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Cliff has it right. The

Cliff has it right. The sentence should be carried out in full within 1 year. This is particularly true when there is a confession or clear evidence proving the guilt. Rivera is one example and so is the convict involved in the courtroom shooting in Atlanta.

If the death penalty were to disappear, then the alternative for the convict should be far worse. No parole, no freedoms, no appeals. Hard labor, very hard labor for life or what little will remain of it.

RoadKing09
16
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RoadKing09 10/11/10 - 07:58 am
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I understand the victims

I understand the victims usually Do Not Get Any Appeals!!!!!

getalife
4
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getalife 10/11/10 - 08:12 am
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Our justice system is screwed

Our justice system is screwed up. RoadKing09 is right, the victims were not given anytime to think about what was about to happen to them. Allow one appeal that is to be handled within one year, then flip the switch or inject. Think of how many people these animals killed and how many families and friends are still grieving over those murdered.

lifelongresident
1323
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lifelongresident 10/11/10 - 08:18 am
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the sad part is the scum who
Unpublished

the sad part is the scum who killed his wife, then 15 years later killed again!!! to all bleeding hearts who oppose capital punishment what is your explaination regarding mr. arrington??? if he would have executed back in 1986 then his second murder victim would still be alive

Rolling Eyes
247
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Rolling Eyes 10/11/10 - 08:35 am
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In these cases it seems that

In these cases it seems that the state is using old age as their preferred means of execution.....

joelee
0
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joelee 10/11/10 - 08:50 am
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I got no "bleeding heart" and

I got no "bleeding heart" and maybe no heart at all. Hook 'em all up in series and I'll be glad to throw the switch that'll send the lot of 'em to hell.

But the truth is---Until we, as an organized society (State) are willing to let criminals know that their acts are not acceptible we cannot justify capital punishment.

For most of recorded history we punished criminals in order to send a clear message to all of society that we would not tolerate behavior deemed unacceptible.

Today's criminals, especially the youth, don't value life--not even their own. We should place most of the blame on ourselves for not continuing to send that "clear message" that is so necessary.

Chillen
17
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Chillen 10/11/10 - 10:15 am
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Millions of tax dollars are

Millions of tax dollars are being wasted every single year that these scumbags take in oxygen.

Our justice system MUST be fixed so that it is fiscally responsible. Punishment should be swift. Once you lose your second appeal, you leave court and head to the death chamber. No exceptions.

EvansMom4
0
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EvansMom4 10/11/10 - 11:47 am
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I stomach turns to know this

I stomach turns to know this TRASH is still breathing good air! I think the joke of a system should 86 them all at one time. A combo deal! I still remember feeling scared when Rivera was out on the hunt. Firing squad and bring back public execution!

RAWR
0
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RAWR 10/11/10 - 12:36 pm
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"I'll do it again if you let

"I'll do it again if you let me out...I'll do it again and again."

The quote above is why Rivera should have been executed immediately. Evansmom a firing squad is too good for him. He should die like his victims.

Corgimom you are right. I did forget Chrisilee Barton. Without her strength we might have never known that my friend, Tabatha, was one of Rivera's victims.

mable8
2
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mable8 10/11/10 - 12:54 pm
0
0
Each of these individuals

Each of these individuals have been found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; and, in each case, it appears that each has ADMITTED to their guilt. Therefore, they should be executed now--there is no need to wait any longer. I have no sympathies for these felons--they received a sentence that is appropritate to the deed and there is no doubt as to their guilt. This is a waste of taxpayer money and prolongs the anguish of the innocent victims' families.

jebko
0
Points
jebko 10/11/10 - 04:10 pm
0
0
A gallows outside every court

A gallows outside every court house!... with a moving sidewalk!

Asitisinaug
3
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Asitisinaug 10/12/10 - 01:12 am
0
0
A complete waste of time and

A complete waste of time and money - issue their punishment and give the savings to the Sheriff's Office, School System or back to the taxpayers. If guilty, I undertstand one or two appeals but punishment should be rendered within a year at the longest. Also, persons serving life should have an option of death - give them what they want.

billyjones1949
1
Points
billyjones1949 09/21/11 - 11:07 pm
0
0
get on with it. No lost to

get on with it. No lost to society from these kinds of people.

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