Originally created 01/23/04

Rivera guilty on all counts



A Richmond County jury found confessed killer Reinaldo Rivera guilty on all counts this afternoon, rejecting a defense claim of mental illness.

The jury delivered guilty verdicts on 14 counts in the Sept. 4, 2000, rape and murder of Army Sgt. Marni M. Glista, 21, and the Oct. 10, 2000 attack on Chrisilee Barton. He was convicted of murder, rape, aggravated sodomy, aggravated assault, burglary and possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime.

With the conviction, his trial will enter a second phase and the jury will be asked to set punishment - life in prison with or without the possibility of parole or death.

A death sentence is the penalty District Attorney Danny Craig and Assistant District Attorney Ashley Wright will try to persuade a jury to impose.

Defense attorney Peter Johnson and co-counsel Jacque Hawk have conceded Mr. Rivera's guilt. But they had asked the jury this week to return a verdict of guilty but mentally ill. They said such a verdict wouldn't have excused Mr. Rivera's crime in any way or preclude the jury from considering any of the three sentencing options.

Now, Mr. Rivera's defense team will try to persuade the jury to impose one of the other two punishment options - life in prison with or without the possibility of parole.

The verdicts followed Thursday's closing arguments that made Mr. Rivera fume.

Mr. Craig argued to the jury that Mr. Rivera didn't seduce four young women into modeling for him but actually abducted them to savagely rape, sodomize and butcher them - not because he's addicted to sex but because he is a psychopath.

Regardless of the outcome of this trial, Mr. Craig has said he will likely pursue capital murder charges in Columbia County, where one of Mr. Rivera's victims, Tabitha Bosdell, was found.

Mr. Rivera, 40, still faces murder charges in South Carolina in the slayings of Melissa Dingess and Tiffaney Wilson.