Serial killer Rivera still awaiting final judgment

Families of victims grieving, waiting for closure in case

  • Follow Crime & courts

Updates come in the mail every few months on letterhead from the Georgia attorney general’s office. But, they rarely say anything new the family of a slain army sergeant cares to hear about death row inmate Reinaldo Rivera.

Reinaldo Rivera confessed to the rape and murder of four local women in 1999 and 2000.
Reinaldo Rivera confessed to the rape and murder of four local women in 1999 and 2000.


The last update explained holdups with the death penalty related to concerns that a drug used in executions might cause the inmate pain.

“His pain that he suffers is far less than the pain caused Marni and Chrisilee,” said Wendy Knopp, older sister of Rivera’s first victim, 21-year-old Army Sgt. Marni Glista.

Sgt. Glista’s family waits on the death sentence to be carried out as the lengthy judicial process continues.

“We’re going on 11 years since Marni’s death,” said Knopp, of Puyallup, Wash. “It would be nice to have that final closure, but it’s not up to us either.”

A Richmond County Superior Court jury sentenced Rivera to death in January 2004 for Glista’s murder. Glista was found unconscious and barely breathing inside her home on Sept. 5, 2000, after being attacked the day before. She died Sept. 9 at Doctors Hospital. Glista was strangled, according to the indictment.

Rivera confessed that he raped and killed three other women. A fourth, Chrisilee Barton, survived a brutal stabbing and gave investigators clues that led to his capture.

Especially near the anniversary of Glista’s death and her July birthday, the family wonders what her life would be like today if not for Rivera.

“She was married. Would she have kids; what would her career path look like?” Knopp said.

The death sentence appeal of the serial rapist and killer moved to the Georgia Supreme Court, where a decision to review his request for habeas corpus should be issued by the end of March.

Most recently, Rivera’s lawyer for the habeas petition was granted a 10-day extension by the courts on Sept. 6 to file a brief regarding the inmate’s mental competency. His lawyer, Brian Kammer from the Georgia Resource Center in Atlanta, stated that he needed more time to write a well-researched brief given the court’s demands and his workload for other death penalty cases, Hansen said.

Kammer denied a request for interview.

The state has six months to rule on the case after the court term to which it has been assigned begins this month, according to Jane Hansen, public information officer for the Georgia Supreme Court. The case will be argued through written briefs after the court denied a request to hear oral arguments in June, she said.

As Glista’s family waits on this chapter in their lives to close, they cling to their faith in God and the courts.

“For me and my family, we have a tremendous amount of faith in Christ. He is the final judge and jury,” Knopp said. “I hope the sentence is carried out. I do believe in the justice system.”

At this point in the appeals process, Rivera, who sits on death row in Jackson, Ga., is asking the Georgia Supreme Court to challenge the most recent ruling against him.

On March 31, Superior Court Judge William Fears ordered a final ruling denying Rivera’s petition for habeas.

Rivera insisted from his first confessions that he wanted a death sentence.

According to the judge’s final order, Rivera “consistently, both at trial and during these habeas proceedings, indicated that he has no desire to appeal his convictions and sentences.”

Peter Johnson, an Augusta criminal defense attorney who represented Rivera during his original trial, said Rivera’s appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court, if authorized, must continue with the original grounds of the habeas trial.

“If they deny it, then he is dead in the water,” Johnson said.

According to Johnson, the only other option for Rivera would be taking the case to the U.S. Supreme Court where he would need to raise a constitutional question with the trial. Johnson said he did not know enough about Rivera’s habeas petition to determine if that’s possible.

Richard Dieter, executive director for the Death Penalty Information Center, said the U.S. Supreme Court does not accept many death penalty appeal cases.

If Rivera chooses to take his appeal to federal courts, the process could take even more time, Dieter said.

ABOUT THE SERIES

Have you ever wanted to know what became of a person or issue that once dominated the local news ?

The Augusta Chronicle provides answers to readers’ requests in its regular series, “What ever happened to…?”

Today, we look at convicted serial killer Reinaldo Rivera, who confessed to the rape and murder of four Augusta area women in 1999 and 2000.

Requests can be e-mailed to mike.wynn@augustachronicle.com; mailed to The Augusta Chronicle, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903-1928, Attn: Mike Wynn; or placed in the online comment section at augustachronicle.com.

Comments (27) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
BennyS
0
Points
BennyS 09/11/11 - 06:21 pm
0
0
who cares if the injection

who cares if the injection hurts him. What about the victims and their pain. The bleeding hearts in this needs to get over it.

scoopdedoop64
2423
Points
scoopdedoop64 09/11/11 - 08:48 pm
0
0
this is where our system is

this is where our system is so messed up. He should have been put to death as soon as the verdict was read.

cityman
-6
Points
cityman 09/11/11 - 11:32 pm
0
0
Eye for eye, tooth for tooth!
Unpublished

Eye for eye, tooth for tooth!

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 09/12/11 - 02:17 am
0
0
"Justice delayed is justice

"Justice delayed is justice denied."

nothin2show4it
120
Points
nothin2show4it 09/12/11 - 05:13 am
0
0
The legal system hasn't made
Unpublished

The legal system hasn't made enough money on this. Here's your jobs program right here. Just how many people are making money by keeping this animal alive?

bclicious
728
Points
bclicious 09/12/11 - 05:34 am
0
0
The great thing is that

The great thing is that Rivera originally asked for the death penalty during his trial. Even though Rivera is now on death row, his sentence will likely be overturned to sentence of life in prison. Then, we (the taxpayers) get to pay for Rivera's medical, incarceration, food, and counseling requirements for the rest of his natural life.

I believe in the death penalty, but the current use of the death penalty is not effective or cost efficient within the constrainants of our current judidal system.

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 09/12/11 - 05:51 am
0
0
rivera needs to move in with
Unpublished

rivera needs to move in with Mr. Kammer until a ruling is made.

Dixieman
15886
Points
Dixieman 09/12/11 - 06:25 am
1
0
The more painful his

The more painful his execution, the better.

freebird
0
Points
freebird 09/12/11 - 08:40 am
0
0
I remember when these women

I remember when these women were attacked. I was on edge reading news reports and heartbroken for the victims and their families. He should be executed...a rope would do just fine. I will never forget these womens names, and the others not mentioned in the article.

billyjones1949
1
Points
billyjones1949 09/12/11 - 09:07 am
0
0
I wonder how long the pain

I wonder how long the pain lasted in the people he killed.
His will last very short but the pain will last forever with his victims relatives.

allhans
23995
Points
allhans 09/12/11 - 09:35 am
1
0
This man deserves an appeal?

This man deserves an appeal? Give me a break.

seenitB4
90642
Points
seenitB4 09/12/11 - 09:35 am
1
0
He should be dead already.

He should be dead already.

Willow Bailey
20603
Points
Willow Bailey 09/12/11 - 09:38 am
0
0
His appropriate death

His appropriate death treatment is strangulation while being shown photos of his victims.

happychimer
18500
Points
happychimer 09/12/11 - 10:11 am
0
0
I remember he would approach

I remember he would approach young women with a promise to give them a modeling career.

2 B just me1
1
Points
2 B just me1 09/12/11 - 11:38 am
0
0
If that pic is a recent one

If that pic is a recent one ,,,looks like we feeding him GOOD! Hope it is a old pic and they have starved him to skin and bones.

CABoatright
188
Points
CABoatright 09/12/11 - 12:24 pm
0
0
This came from a friend at
Unpublished

This came from a friend at work...it's perfect for him:
"Put him in a microwave & push popcorn."
I agree w/her!

Jane18
12332
Points
Jane18 09/12/11 - 12:50 pm
0
0
Waste of time and money, send

Waste of time and money, send him out! "A life for a life..........."

shrimp for breakfast
5460
Points
shrimp for breakfast 09/12/11 - 02:46 pm
0
0
I guess every death row

I guess every death row inmate is going to bring up the fact that one of drugs used in the execution has been changed and could cause pain. The Supream Court needs to finally put this one to rest once and for all so that no condemned inmate can waste more time and money appealing it.
Can you see a condemned man in the old west complaining that they changed the type of rope used in executions and the new rope may cause undo suffering? The courts would laugh and laugh and laugh!

allhans
23995
Points
allhans 09/12/11 - 03:39 pm
0
0
I would think it would be

I would think it would be mandatory that the execution would cause pain...

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 09/12/11 - 04:35 pm
0
0
If you have an IQ of 1 and
Unpublished

If you have an IQ of 1 and murdered someone, maybe a bullet to put you out of our misery. An IQ of 2 or more, death by fire.

harley_52
23959
Points
harley_52 09/12/11 - 05:42 pm
0
0
His manner of death for his

His manner of death for his crimes should be that each of the horrific things he did to each of his victims should be done to him. No more, no less. No pain medicine allowed.

dougk
3
Points
dougk 09/12/11 - 06:49 pm
0
0
So much for a civilized
Unpublished

So much for a civilized society!!

harley_52
23959
Points
harley_52 09/12/11 - 07:19 pm
0
0
***So much for a civilized

***So much for a civilized society!!***

Indeed. All these vicious, heinous murderers and other assorted rapists and thugs being treated like naughty children by the courts and the prison system has done nothing but encourage them.

Potential criminals should know the results of their crimes will be swift, sure, and horrible. Thanks to liberals, we've been teaching them it will be slow, improbable, and as comfortable as we can make it.

As is the case in most issues, liberals like to encourage bad behavior by rewarding it.

dougk
3
Points
dougk 09/12/11 - 07:37 pm
0
0
harely, I assume you have not
Unpublished

harely, I assume you have not fully researched either the "brutalization effect" associated with capital punishment, nor have you carefully studied the Classical School of Criminology which you allude to, but murder its basic tenets.

Pu239
284
Points
Pu239 09/12/11 - 07:54 pm
0
0
So dougk....share your
Unpublished

So dougk....share your infinite wisdom....PLEASE enlighten us......

harley_52
23959
Points
harley_52 09/12/11 - 08:29 pm
0
0
You're right. I'm not

You're right.

I'm not particularly interested in left-wing theories about things that are abundantly clear, obvious to the casual observer, and proven over centuries of experience.

It's for those same reasons that I reject all the liberal notions about raising children and I maintain that the mindless, undisciplined, self-absorbed children that terrorize our schools and interrupt the learning process of children who are trying to actually learn something in those same schools are the result of liberal theories about education.

I reject liberal notions on how society should treat citizens (good ones, bad ones, young ones, and old ones) because I've been around long enough to see their programs are complete and utter failures and I'd like to see America become a better place once again.

dougk
3
Points
dougk 09/12/11 - 08:51 pm
0
0
PU...I gave you the key
Unpublished

PU...I gave you the key words. Look both up. They are certainly not "left-wing theories," as Harley claims. The Classical School was founded in the mid 1700s. There are volumes written on that and plenty of empiral literature to explore...there is less on the "brutalization effect" but the empirical evidence is readily available. I certainly am unable to give you even give you a condensed version that would do either justice here. But you can take one of many semester-long courses that may quench your curiosity.
Education, empirical evidence....it's a shame that so may people have an "opinion" that they believe carries equal weight with an "informed opinion" that is based on fact, and supported by empirical evidence.

happychimer
18500
Points
happychimer 09/12/11 - 08:43 pm
0
0
liberalphobia is alive.

liberalphobia is alive.

Pu239
284
Points
Pu239 09/12/11 - 09:07 pm
0
0
doug....if this information
Unpublished

doug....if this information has been around since the mid 1700's and there are volumes of evidence on the "brutalization effect" would you not think that in 300 plus years, corporal punishment issues would have been resolved and we would not longer have individuals committing capital crimes?

dougk
3
Points
dougk 09/12/11 - 09:39 pm
0
0
PU, I never said there were
Unpublished

PU, I never said there were volumes written on the "brutilization effect." I was referring to the Classical School. Nor did I say that POLICY was ever based on either in the U.S. Which it has not.
And, just for the sake of argument, do you believe any sort of policy would eliminate, categorically, capital crimes??

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs