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    Glock: 'I killed Ms. Ritchie. I'm sorry for it'

    Robert Dewey Glock II makes his final statement, closes his eyes and is executed Thursday at Florida State Prison.

    By CARY DAVIS

    © St. Petersburg Times, published January 12, 2001


    STARKE -- With just minutes to live Thursday evening, Robert Dewey Glock II couldn't wait until the brown curtains of the execution chamber were pulled opened to make his final statement.

    It was past 6 p.m., the scheduled time for his execution, but Glock was busy telling Florida State Prison Warden James Crosby that he was sorry for the murder of Sharilyn Ritchie, a Manatee County schoolteacher. The execution already had been delayed several minutes while doctors struggled to find a suitable vein in Glock's arm, but Crosby heard the condemned man out.

    Then, at 6:12 p.m., the curtains were snapped back, revealing Glock strapped to a gurney and covered with a sheet. Glock nodded at one of his attorneys seated in the front row of the witness room, then looked up to the microphone hanging from the ceiling of the brightly-lit execution chamber.

    "Hey everybody," he said with a slight smile, then paused for a moment as tears welled in his eyes. "I killed Ms. Ritchie. I'm sorry for it."

    He ended his statement two minutes later, saying, "I'm ready to go see Jesus," then shut his eyes as Crosby signaled to an executioner, hidden behind a one-way mirror, to start the procedure.

    At 6:16 p.m., the mixture of deadly chemicals now coursing through his veins, Glock's chest began to rise and fall in convulsive gasps, and his lips fluttered. A minute later his body relaxed and his face started to turn blue.

    A prison doctor declared Glock dead at 6:28 p.m.

    Glock, 39, became the seventh Florida inmate to be executed by lethal injection since the state abandoned its mistake-prone electric chair in 1999.

    Glock was condemned for the 1983 slaying of Mrs. Ritchie, a 34-year-old home economics teacher at Palmetto High School, in a Dade City orange grove.

    Mrs. Ritchie, who had taken a year off from teaching to have a baby with her husband, had just parked her car at a Bradenton shopping mall when she was kidnapped at gunpoint by Glock and a cohort, Carl Puiatti.

    Glock and Puiatti stole her car and her wedding ring, forced her to withdraw $100 from an ATM, then drove her 60 miles north to Pasco County. They initially agreed to release her, and handed her a sun visor, her purse and her husband's baseball mitt.

    They started to drive away, then decided to kill her because they feared she could identify them. They made three passes in the car, shooting Mrs. Ritchie numerous times until she finally collapsed, clutching the baseball glove to her chest.

    Five days later, Glock and Puiatti were pulled over on the New Jersey Turnpike by a trooper who couldn't read the license plate on Mrs. Ritchie's car. They both confessed and in 1984 they were tried together, convicted and sentenced to death.

    Puiatti, 38, remains on death row. A date for his execution has not been set.

    "Solace will not come for us with the execution today," Mrs. Ritchie's father, Kermit Johnson, said in a telephone interview Thursday night from his Manatee County home. "One of the most valuable and dearest miracles from God, our daughter Sharilyn, was taken from us by a heinous crime."

    In September, unaware that Gov. Jeb Bush was about to sign his death warrant, Glock married a 45-year-old steelworker from Gary, Ind., he met on the Internet.

    "If he could have given his life for Mrs. Ritchie, he would have," Sheila Glock-Garrett said after the execution. "I'm proud of my husband."

    Glock spent his last day visiting with family members and his legal team, then took communion from a prison chaplain.

    Using a plastic spoon -- inmates aren't allowed to eat with forks or knives -- Glock polished off his final meal of New York strip cut into small pieces, fried shrimp, french fries, green beans, Coca-Cola and Heavenly Hash ice cream.

    "He was calm, relaxed," C.J. Drake, spokesman for the Florida Department of Corrections, told reporters. "He seemed fairly composed."

    Glock's execution originally was scheduled for early December, but on the day before he was scheduled to die, the Florida Supreme Court granted him a temporary stay, saying it was too busy with the presidential voting matter to hear his appeal. On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rejected all of Glock's arguments.

    Recent coverage

    Group to protest execution of killer of school teacher (January 10, 2001)

    Court blocks killer's profiling claims (January 6, 2001)

    State Supreme Court weighs man's death sentence (January 5, 2001)

    Execution delayed; bias claim rejected (December 8, 2000)

    Family, faith bolster inmate (December 7, 2000)

    Attorney asks halt to execution (December 5, 2000)

    Man convicted in 1984 slaying to die Dec. 8 (November 15, 2000)

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