Is ANYBODY in prison guilty? About Robert Rivera

Last night I stumbled across a website proclaiming that Robert Rivera is innocent of the 1999 murder of his one-year-old daughter, Katelyn Rivera-Helton. Her body was never found.

Katelyn’s mother, Jennifer Helton, got a restraining order against him due to his violence, and Robert was only allowed weekly one-hour supervised visits with his daughter. Robert forcibly abducted Katelyn from her babysitter’s home on August 10, 1999. Katelyn was last seen that evening, when Robert bought gas. The gas station attendant saw Katelyn inside the car; she appeared to be happy and uninjured. A few hours later, Robert came back for more gas. Katelyn wasn’t with him then. She has never been seen again.

Robert subsequently told Jennifer that he was going to hell and Katelyn was going to heaven. He told that police that if he told them where Katelyn was, he was sure to spend the rest of his life in jail. Robert’s cellmates stated he had confessed the murder to them, and told them he threw Katelyn’s clothes out the window on Route 202. When the cops checked the spot, they did find a baby shoe and sock, which Jennifer said Katelyn was wearing on the day of her abduction. One of the cellmate witnesses also told the police where Robert had put the shovel he used to bury Katelyn. The police found the shovel at the specified location and a neighbor of Robert identified it as his own and said it had been stolen from his home around the time Katelyn disappeared. Robert, like an idiot, testified in his own defense. His testimony mainly consisted of trashing Jennifer. When they asked him on the stand where Katelyn was, he just said something like, “I have nothing else to say.” Robert was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life, plus twenty-seven years for the kidnapping.

Anyway, this website I’m talking about is almost funny the way it works trying to prove Robert’s innocence. I admit I didn’t look at the whole thing, but what I did find was amusing. It’s amazing where the lemmings of logic will go. Basically, the site argues that Robert didn’t kill Katelyn because it wouldn’t make sense for him to do so. I quote from this page, which speaks for itself:

Because of Robert’s love for Katelyn, it is clear that he would never kill Katelyn out of malice. Legally a killing must be accompanied by malice to be classified as murder… Robert was unhappy with Jennifer for seizing or attempting to seize exclusive custody of Katelyn. But the prosecution never demonstrated that Robert was mad at Jennifer for any other reason. The prosecution presented a Catch-22 paradox. If Robert loved Katelyn, then he could not have killed her. If Robert did not love Katelyn, then he had little reason for being mad at or wanting some alleged revenge on Jennifer.

The site claims the key physical evidence against Robert — Katelyn’s clothes on the highway median and the shovel — was all planted by the police. The site also seems to equate “illiterate” with “stupid” as in: Being illiterate, it is unlikely that Rivera would entertain any theory about how leaving clothes on Katelyn would inhibit her decay, or why it was important that her body decay faster. No one has suggested that Robert is mentally retarded, and I think even a person who could not read would be able to realize it was better if the body decomposed as fast as possible, and that perhaps removing the clothes would help. Certainly the clothes, if found with the body, could help identify it. It doesn’t take a lexicographer or spelling bee champion to figure that much out.

The creator of the Free Robert Rivera site, Dan Rastatter, runs another site called Victims of the State about alleged miscarriages of justice. I had a look at his murder without a body section and saw two cases, besides Katelyn’s, where the victim is on Charley.

It seems like everybody in prison — particularly those convicted of murder — is claiming they are not guilty, that their incarceration is a terrible miscarriage of justice. One would wonder if we should have anyone in our prisons at all. Of course miscarriages of justice do happen on a regular basis, sad to say, and I’m all for investigating questionable convictions and exonerating and releasing wrongfully convicted people. Somehow, though, I get the feeling that Robert Rivera did exactly what the jury thinks he did and does in fact deserve to be locked up for the rest of his life.