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Family, faith bolster inmate

"Thine will be done,'' says Robert Dewey Glock II, who is scheduled to be executed Friday at Florida State Prison.

By CARY DAVIS

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 7, 2000


STARKE -- Death row inmate Robert Dewey Glock II says he still has a lot to live for. Above all, he said, there's his faith in God, his wife of three months and her six children.

From his spartan cell at Florida State Prison, Glock has been churning out letters almost daily, instructing his new bride -- a 45-year-old steelworker from Gary, Ind. -- on how to discipline her children and balance the checkbook.

But time is running out for the 39-year-old Glock, a resident of death row since 1984. Barring a last-minute stay, the state plans to execute Glock at 6 p.m. Friday by lethal injection for the 1983 murder of Sharilyn Ritchie in a Dade City orange grove.

On Wednesday afternoon, in what could be his last media interview, Glock declined to talk to a St. Petersburg Times reporter about the crime for which he is to be executed. His lawyer, he said apologetically, told him it could jeopardize his 11th-hour appeal.

"I feel kind of bad putting you off," he said. "I would like to. But legally I can't."

Instead, he talked proudly about his new family and the peaceful feeling that has replaced thoughts of suicide and despair since he found God in 1992 through "a brother on the row."

"I have a purpose," said Glock, a short, stocky man with thick glasses. "I feel like I'm giving something back. I'm not just taking up space."

Throughout the one-hour interview, Glock smiled as he talked through a hole in the glass partition that separated him from a reporter and photographer. When a tape recorder didn't pick up his muffled voice at first, a guard handed the device to Glock. He kept a steady watch on it, raising his shackled hand every few minutes to give a thumbs-up, a sign that his words were being preserved.

Should God decide he deserves to die, so be it, Glock said.

"Thine will be done," he said. "Whether it's good or bad, we have to accept that it's his will. It's not ours to question. It's ours to accept. I don't make the plan, I'm just part of it."

But, said Glock, "being a human being, of course I have some fears about the physical part, the procedures involved, small things that really are of no consequence."

Another Florida family also is relying on their strong faith to get through this difficult time. The relatives of Sharilyn Ritchie said Wednesday that they will take no pleasure in Glock's execution.

"We forgive him," said Mrs. Ritchie's sister, Rebecca Burke. "We have no animosity for him."

Glock said his biggest regret was that he "didn't find God sooner. Mrs. Ritchie wouldn't be dead."

Mrs. Ritchie, a 34-year-old Manatee County schoolteacher, had just parked her car at a Bradenton mall on Aug. 16, 1983, when she was kidnapped at gunpoint by Glock and a cohort, Carl Puiatti. They stole her wedding ring, forced her to withdraw $100 from a bank, then drove her car north 60 miles to Pasco County.

They released her in an orange grove just south of Dade City 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 she could identify them.

Glock and Puiatti returned three times and fired numerous shots at Mrs. Ritchie. She managed to walk about 10 yards before collapsing for the last time. When authorities found her body, she was clutching the leather mitt to her chest.

Five days later, Glock and Puiatti were picked up by a New Jersey state trooper who could not read the license plate on Mrs. Ritchie's car.

Glock and Puiatti both confessed to the murder, and in 1984 they were convicted and sentenced to death by a Pasco circuit judge.

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

Today at 5 p.m. a Pasco judge is scheduled to hear a last-minute appeal for Glock.

Preparations for Glock's execution have already begun. On Tuesday, nurses at Florida State Prison inspected Glock's arms for suitable veins. Glock has put in his request for a last meal: lobster, New York strip cooked medium rare, corn on the cob, french fries and heavenly hash ice cream.

His wife, Sheila Glock Garrett, prays her husband eats standard prison fare for the rest of his life.

"Even if he weren't my husband, I would be opposed to him being put to death," Garrett said. "My husband is the most sincere, nicest person in the world."

The couple met through the Internet in 1996. Glock was looking for pen pals, so he wrote a short biography and submitted it to a Web site featuring death row inmates. Not only did Garrett like what she read, she adored the picture of an afghan Glock had knitted that also was posted on the site. After four years of letters and periodic visits, the couple married on Sept. 13.

They had no idea at the time that Gov. Jeb Bush was about to sign a death warrant for Glock.

"It kind of put a damper on things," said Garrett, who has been staying at a boarding house in Starke for the past two weeks.

Garrett said she used to shake her head in disbelief whenever she watched interviews with death row wives on television talk shows.

"I remember thinking, "Those women must have something wrong with them,' " she said. "You don't fall in love with someone on death row.

"People will probably think the same thing about me. But they just don't know Bobby."

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