Jewish World Review Jan. 30, 2001 /8 Shevat, 5761
There is something wrong when we begin to assume that all death
penalty cases are flawed
I FAVOR the death penalty and believe it is just.
I also deeply admire the attorneys and journalists
who have investigated cases in which people
have been put on Death Row who do not belong
there. That is a crime in itself.
But there is something wrong when we begin to assume that perhaps all death
penalty cases are flawed. They're not.
As far as I can tell, no one has spoken much about the injustice done to a
woman named Sharilyn Ritchie. She was not accused of harming anyone. She
herself was murdered.
A second injustice to her -- in my opinion --was done in the years after she
One of her murderers -- Robert D. Glock -- was executed this month in
He killed Mrs. Ritchie in 1983. He was finally put to death this month.
That is where I believe the injustice comes in. Glock was allowed to live for
almost 18 years after he killed Mrs. Ritchie.
She was a 34-year-old home economics teacher at Palmetto High School in
Florida. She had taken a year off to have a baby with her husband, Larry,
who had been a baseball coach at the same school.
On Aug. 13, 1983, Mrs. Ritchie stepped out of her car at the DeSoto Square
Mall to go shopping. She was met by Robert Glock and an accomplice, Carl
Puiatti (Puiatti remains on Death Row today).
What happened next is not in question; the killers admitted it.
They forced Mrs. Ritchie to withdraw $100 from a drive-through ATM. She
begged them for two things: to allow her to keep her wedding ring, and her
husband's baseball mitt. She used to attend the games her husband coached,
and evidently the mitt meant a lot to her.
They took the wedding ring, but let her have the mitt. They put her out of her
car in an orange grove. They drove away, but came back.
Puiatti shot Mrs. Ritchie twice with a .38-caliber Colt revolver.
They started to leave again, but noticed Mrs. Ritchie might still be alive. So
they returned, and Glock shot her again.
She still seemed to be alive. Glock shot her once more, and Mrs. Ritchie
stopped moving. She died while holding onto her husband's baseball mitt.
They were arrested and sentenced to die in the electric chair. But because of
the various appeals and protections given to Death Row inmates, Glock --
who killed Mrs. Ritchie in 1983, who admitted it and who was convicted in
1984 -- was still alive and being sheltered, clothed and fed by the State of
Florida in 2000.
Glock received a final stay of execution last year when his attorney argued
that, when police in New Jersey arrested Glock in Mrs. Ritchie's car, the
police had made Glock a victim of racial profiling.
Glock is not African-American. His attorney argued Glock and Puiatti were
unfairly pulled over because they looked Italian.
A Florida judge soon rejected that argument, and Glock was executed this
He died by lethal injection even though he had been sentenced to the electric
chair. New rules in Florida -- put in place after murderers apparently suffered
during their executions -- allow Death Row inmates their choice of the
method of execution. (Mrs. Ritchie was not given a choice of how she would
Glock was given a final meal of New York strip steak, fried shrimp, french
fries, green beans, corn on the cob, Coca-Cola and heavenly hash ice cream.
(Glock did not give Mrs. Ritchie a choice of her last meal.)
For almost 18 years after Glock killed Mrs. Ritchie, he was allowed to laugh
at television comedies, to enjoy the sound of music, to fall in love (he got
married while in prison to a woman he met on the Internet), to speak and
correspond with people he cared for, to follow whatever sports events and
political stories interested him, to develop whatever friendships he could
make while behind bars, to hope and dream. In short, Glock was allowed to
Mrs. Ritchie was allowed none of that. She was not granted a single extra
day of life. She was executed on that August day in 1983, without a trial,
without appeals, without her pleas for mercy being answered -- except with
Yes, there are injustices in capital cases -- and sometimes they concern
people accused of crimes they did not commit.
But there was an injustice in this case, too. The injustice was to Sharilyn
The injustice was that Robert Glock was permitted to live and breathe for 18
years after he killed
JWR contributor Bob Greene is a novelist and columnist. Send your comments to him by clicking here.
01/29/01: Sometimes a police story begins with a poem
01/24/01: It's a dog-eat-dog world -- unless you're the only dog
01/23/01: Can we be civil and bombproof at the same time?
01/19/01: First came Saints, next came Sinners, then came Bronson
01/18/01: Of Saints and Sinners, and the nearness of faraway dreams
01/15/01: Does anyone care that Germany owns the Jeep?
01/11/01: The day that America heard the locks click shut
12/28/00: The talk of 2000? It's right there in your hand
12/27/00: There actually is a lesson for us in all of this
12/26/00: 'You weren't supposed to love me; that wasn't the program'
12/21/00: The words from this election year that may echo the longest
12/19/00: The most impressive things are the ones strategists can't shape
12/14/00: There is a word for what the country is going through
12/13/00: Courtroom moments that never make the front page
12/07/00: Does Justice Scalia really believe Americans can't take the truth?
12/07/00: Al Gore slept here -- and there goes the neighborhood
12/06/00: In the midst of all the noise, the truth will be heard
12/05/00: If you think the election has been weird up until now ...
11/30/00: If two men applying for a job were treated like this ...
11/29/00: Will all of this turn people away from politics? Dream on
11/28/00: Send Bush and Gore to their rooms -- bring in the pros
11/23/00: Three little words-- and two strange weeks in Florida
11/22/00: Did you hear the one about the farmer's daughter in Florida?
11/21/00: The shocking saga of the incredible shrinking men
11/15/00: The glorious mess that has come our way
11/09/00: How do you cross the line when the line has vanished?
11/08/00: The wave of the future
11/06/00: The crime that hides behind a wall of silence
11/02/00: If you have been asking yourself what you can do ...
11/01/00: 'He will never know what it is like to ride a bicycle'
10/31/00: 'It makes you feel that you are absolutely powerless'
10/30/00: THE KILLER LEARNS 'ANGER MANAGEMENT' AND IS FREED
10/26/00: `I'm not going to go up there and yell and scream'
10/25/00: With prosecutors silent, the other killer is released
10/24/00: The boy's killer: 'I've served my time, and I'm out'
10/23/00: Blaming the boy for bringing on his own killing
10/20/00: The child's killer is released -- to care for other children
10/19/00: Words that the judge would not allow to be spoken
10/18/00: A courthouse game in which the boy was not included
10/17/00: The killers get 7 to 25 years ... with a wink
10/13/00: While the killers maneuver, the boy goes unburied
10/13/00: The killers demand a concession -- and they get it
10/12/00: The prosecutors decide it doesn't qualify as murder
10/11/00: 'He wouldn't eat his eggs, and we put him to bed'
10/10/00: The autopsy leaves no questions: 'It was a homicide'
10/06/00: 'Had they shot him in the head, he would have suffered less'
10/05/00: 'I remember the moment that I first saw the human bite marks'
10/04/00: They killed a 3-year-old boy -- and they are free
09/29/00: This just in, sort of: How the news can make you calm
09/27/00: Like being with old
friends in places you
09/21/00: If the Olympics banished television . . .
09/19/00: As summer ends, have the executives learned any lessons?
09/14/00: The new stardom that doesn't require paying any dues
09/12/00: Leave a light on for us children of the pioneers
09/09/00: River banks? How to turn water into an endless cash flow
09/06/00:Oh, give me a home, where the megabytes roam . . .
09/01/00: If this works, it can literally change young lives
08/30/00: From inside all those screen porches, one more cheer
08/24/00: Who will make your life better by August of 2004?
08/24/00: Four men running -- Why do we have to throw out two?
08/16/00:The certain way to measure the Lieberman factor
08/10/00: Can a library be a library without books?
08/08/00: Can't they spare eight nights every four years?
08/04/00: Cheney, Abe Lincoln and Ricky Martin -- do they add up?
08/02/00: Convention aside, you might want to tune in
07/27/00: How to make a killing
07/25/00: 'If we didn't do it, no one else would'
07/24/00: The executioners who walk among us
07/20/00: On Main Street, signs of the times tell two stories
07/18/00: Have the choices changed, or have we?
07/14/00: Gable, Hepburn, Zanuck--you wouldn't find them at HOJO's
07/13/00: The Great Lie about political conventions
07/06/00: If this is victory, what would defeat feel like?
06/29/00: A bright moon and a missing person on Orange Ave.
06/26/00: They're not singing our song
06/22/00: The name game
06/07/00: It's like knocking on a revolving door
06/06/00: Steven who? A close encounter of mistaken identity
06/02/00: Of summer days, summer nights and pebbles in a jar
05/31/00: The best laughter, the truest voices, will never fade
05/25/00: Of distant visions, close views, and Bobby Knight
05/24/00: 'The luckiest thing that ever happened to me'
05/23/00: 'It's funny how you remember the little things'
05/22/00: 'The whisper of a generation saying goodbye to its children'
05/19/00: The place to find life is not a keyboard
05/18/00: A problem of suds but no duds
05/17/00: Are those lazy, hazy dot-com days fading?
05/16/00: The truest things in life require not a single word
05/15/00: 'Evidently he didn't like the way she dusted the house'
05/12/00: Why news executives are hoping this 'woman' is a hit
05/11/00: Ted Koppel, Hitler, Mellencamp . . . and words of love
05/10/00: Maybe it's time for the right people to hear our cheers
05/09/00: The lesson that they always learn late
05/05/00: 'Excuse me, but there seems to be something in my water'
05/05/00: When your first dream turns out to be your best dream
05/04/00: Even baseball couldn't make light of this superstition
05/03/00: The ringmaster who looks back from your mirror
05/02/00: There they go, just a-yappin' down the street . . .
05/01/00: You must remember this (Unless you don't)
04/24/00: Now that casino ads are allowed to tell the truth . . .
04/13/00: The man in the seat across the airplane aisle
04/11/00: A star is born, but do you know where it's @?
04/06/00: Through the eyes of Norman Rockwell
03/21/00: 10 good reasons to avoid making this list
03/21/00: 'I tell myself that they've gone on vacation'
03/21/00: Monday Night Football memories
03/02/00: This report card deserves an 'A' in every subject
02/29/00: What really happened on New Year's eve
02/23/00: Of paste pots, Denver sandwiches and finding Dr. Sam
02/17/00: What would you like to stay exactly the same?
02/04/00: Politics: When did the stagehands step onto the stage?
02/01/00: An awesome idea to make you sound better
01/26/00: Y3K already? We haven't yet recovered from Y2K
01/21/00: Watching the pot that always boils
01/19/00:The story behind the men on the museum steps
01/13/00: Here's to the students who never hear a cheer
01/11/00: The oh-so-sweet sound of modems in the morning
01/04/00: The person in your mirror just got wiser
12/31/99: A lesson -- and a memory -- to last a millennium
12/29/99: Racing the clock, even when it's running backwards
12/13/99: The right to bear coffee
12/08/99: From teen idol to ink-stained wretch: Can you Dig it?
12/02/99: Human 'search engines'
11/30/99: Here's looking at you -- now hand over the cash
11/23/99: Who'll say 'I'm sorry' to the other Decatur students?
11/18/99: "From bad things, good can come"
11/16/99: The man who didn't know the meaning of 'whatever'
11/12/99: Is this progress? We have made the weekend obsolete
11/09/99: Today he would probably be called Kyle Kramden
11/04/99: And you thought the IRS was heartless
11/02/99: When it's free, what will the real price be?
10/29/99: The tissue-thin decisions that define who we are
10/26/99: One way to cut road rage down to size
10/22/99: Asking all the right questions takes a special pitch
10/18/99: The signs are talking to you; Are you listening?
10/12/99: Even Capone would be disgusted
10/08/99: Don't ever look your neighborhood bear in the eye
10/06/99: Land of the free and marketplace of the brave
10/04/99: German warplanes in
09/30/99: While you fret, something is sneaking up on you
09/28/99: In these busy times, why not bring back a certain buzz?
09/24/99: The storms whose paths no one can track
09/21/99: Who's minding the store? Oh . . . never mind
09/17/99:Here's another place where you can't smoke
09/14/99: As certainly as `lovely Rita' follows `when I'm 64' . . .
09/09/99: Why is patience no longer a virtue?
09/07/99: Once upon a time, in an airport close to you . . .
09/03/99: The answers? They are right in front of us
09/01/99: Up the creek with a paddle--and cussing up a storm
08/30/99: $1 Million Question: How'd we get to be so stup-d?
08/27/99: Fun and games at Camp Umbilical Cord
08/25/99: How life has been changed by the woodpecker effect
08/23/99: If you don't like this story, blame the robot who wrote it
08/20/99: A four-letter word that has helped both Bob and Rhonda
08/18/99: They have picked the wrong country
08/16/99: From paperboy to stalker--how the news has changed
08/12/99: Why wasn't anyone watching his brothers?
08/10/99: Come to think of it, stars seldom are the retiring type
08/05/99: The national gaper's block is always jammed
07/29/99: 'Can you imagine the gift you gave me?'
07/27/99: A view to a kill -- but is this really necessary?
07/23/99: Some cream and sugar with your turbulence?
07/21/99: When your name is JFK jr., how do you choose to use it?
07/19/99: The real world is declared not real enough
07/15/99: The real victims of cruel and unusual punishment
07/13/99: A 21st Century idea for schools: log off and learn
07/09/99: Are life's sweetest mysteries still around the bend?
07/07/99: Of great minds, cream cheese and Freddy Cannon
07/02/99: The perfect spokesman for the American way
06/30/99: 'He's 9 years old . . . he trusts people'
06/28/99: A $581 million jackpot in the courthouse casino
06/25/99: A nighttime walk to a House that feels like a cage
06/23/99: At least give men credit for being more morose
06/18/99: On Father's Day, a few words about mothers
06/16/99: If work is a dance, how's
your partner doing?
06/14/99: Should a dictionary ever tell you to keep quiet?
06/10/99: A story of Sex, the SuperBowl and your wife
06/07/99: Take a guess where "California Sun" is from
06/03/99: Of summer days, summer nights and pebbles in a jar
06/01/99: Putting your money where their mouths are
05/27/99: Pressed between wooden covers, the summer of her life
05/25/99:The lingering song of a certain summer
05/24/99:We could all use a return to the Buddy system
05/20/99: Now, this is enough to make James Bond double-0 depressed
05/17/99: It's midnight -- do you know where your parents are?
05/13/99: And now even saying "thank you" creates a problem
05/11/99: The answer was standing at the front door
©1999, Tribune Media Services