Reinaldo J. Rivera pleaded innocent to murder charges Tuesday in Columbia County Superior Court.
Mr. Rivera, 37, sat motionless as Superior Court Judge Albert M. Pickett read the indictment that accuses him of strangling 17-year-old Tabatha Leigh Bosdell to death. Her body was found Oct. 14 in a wooded area just off Interstate 20.
"Not guilty," lead defense attorney Peter Johnson announced for his client to Judge Pickett. If convicted, Mr. Rivera could face the death penalty.
Tuesday's arraignment was the first of a series of hearings required in Georgia before a death penalty trial can commence. It was Mr. Rivera's first opportunity in Columbia County to issue a plea to the charge and voice any objections to the way his defense attorneys, Mr. Johnson and Jacque Hawk, are conducting his defense.
"I have absolutely no objections," Mr. Rivera responded when Judge Pickett asked him if he had any objections.
Miss Bosdell was attacked in Richmond County on June 29, then taken either dead or dying to Columbia County. She was dumped in a wooded area near Pumpkin Center.
Mr. Rivera was arraigned earlier this month in Richmond County on multiple charges, including murder and sexual assault in the death of Fort Gordon Army Sgt. Marni Glista. Sgt. Glista was attacked in her home Sept. 4 and left for dead. She died five days later in a local hospital.
District Attorney Danny Craig also plans to seek the death penalty in Richmond County if Mr. Rivera is convicted for the slaying of Sgt. Glista.
Trial dates have not been set in either county.
Aiken County authorities have charged Mr. Rivera with the sexual assaults and killings of Tiffaney Wilson and Melissa Dingess, both 17.
Mrs. Wilson's body was found Dec. 28 off Bettis Academy Road in Aiken County. She was last seen Dec. 4 in the Winn-Dixie parking lot off U.S. Highway 25 in North Augusta, where she was taking her baby to have a Christmas photograph taken. The infant was later found unharmed at the Georgia Welcome Center on I-20.
Mrs. Dingess' remains were also found in Aiken County, but not until the day of Mr. Rivera's arrest in October. She was last seen by family and friends July 17, 1999, outside the Graniteville Cafe near her home.
Mr. Rivera was arrested Oct. 13 in connection with the Oct. 10 attack on Chrisilee Barton, who survived the attack and provided information that helped lead authorities to Mr. Rivera. The next day, Richmond County sheriff's investigators alerted Columbia County officers where to find Miss Bosdell's body off I-20 and Wrightsboro Road.
Mr. Rivera was a tire inspector with Bridgestone-Firestone who lived with his wife and two children in Aiken County.
Reach Ashlee Griggs at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 109.