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Confessed killer is set to die today

Glenn Ocha, who changed his name in prison to Raven Raven, is scheduled for lethal injection, though some officials object.

By CARRIE JOHNSON
Published April 5, 2005


TALLAHASSEE - When they arrested him, Glenn Ocha told investigators he calmly sipped a beer and cleaned his kitchen after hanging a 28-year-old woman from her neck in his home outside Kissimmee.

Since that October 1999 night, Ocha has made no secret of his desire to die. After pleading guilty to first-degree murder without a trial, he asked an Osceola County circuit judge to sentence him to death. Later, he fired an attorney who tried to appeal the ruling.

Tonight, Ocha, 47, may finally get his wish. He is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 6 p.m. at the Florida State Prison in Raiford, the state's 60th execution since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

No appeals are pending, and a lawyer appointed to represent Ocha said that as of Monday afternoon, the execution was scheduled to proceed as planned.

Abe Bonowitz, director of Floridians for Alternatives for the Death Penalty, said serious questions remain about Ocha's mental health. He legally changed his name to Raven Raven and has a tattoo on his left shoulder of a black bird and a heart that reads "Nevermore."

Ocha also has a well-documented history of suicide attempts. In 1978, he begged an Orange County deputy who arrested him for fighting to shoot him. He also tried to hang himself with his jacket in a holding cell.

"This is yet another state-assisted suicide, or suicide by governor," Bonowitz said. "This isn't punishment. It's reward if it's what the prisoner is asking for."

Bonowitz, who is organizing protest demonstrations around the state, on Monday called on Gov. Jeb Bush to halt the execution. This will be the 16th execution in Florida since Bush became governor.

Bonowitz called Bush's stance on the death penalty hypocritical in light of his objection to the death of Terri Schiavo.

"In this state, you cannot get an assisted suicide," Bonowitz said. "Unless you commit murder and then the state will bend over backward to help you die."

According to court records, Ocha pleaded guilty to killing Carol Skjerva, who gave him a ride to his home in Buenaventura Lakes from a nearby bar the night of Oct. 5, 1999.

Ocha said he had sex with with Skjerva. But he became enraged after she made a disparaging remark about his anatomy, and attempted to strangle her.

When his arms grew tired, Ocha hanged Skjerva from a door, then stuffed her into an entertainment center in his garage, according to court records.

Mark Gruber, an appeals attorney who was dismissed by Ocha, said the inmate strenuously objected to any attempts to overturn his sentence. "He was very adamant from the beginning he did not want anything done for him," Gruber said.

Ocha's refusal to fight for his life isn't unique among death row inmates. John Blackwelder, a Fort Pierce man who was put to death last May, also fired his lawyers and waived all of his appeals.

Gruber said the practice has been deemed permissible by the courts provided the inmate has been found competent to proceed on his own. Ocha has twice been judged competent.

Ocha's criminal history is long and violent. He was convicted of robbery and attempted murder in 1984 for shooting a Kentucky hotel manager during an argument over room charges. Sentenced to 20 years in prison, Ocha was released in 1998.

He had been out of prison for less than a year when he met Skjerva.

--Carrie Johnson can be reached at 850 224-7263 or cjohnson@sptimes.com

[Last modified April 5, 2005, 01:30:21]


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