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A Single Hair

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Even if Rivera beats the odds and his death sentence is overturned, he has a life sentence to carry out for the attempted murder of the girl at Green Glades. But Rivera now contends he is innocent of that crime, too. If he were to somehow go free, would he return to his sexually deviant and dangerous ways? "I would be OK now," he answers. "I still fantasize but not about what I used to fantasize about. Now it's females on television or a female that I correspond with."

In prison Rivera says he's developed a routine of reading (mostly the Bible), writing letters, exercising, and watching his 13-inch black-and-white TV. He's converted to Judaism (hence the yarmulke) and has unofficially changed the spelling of his first name to "Michayl," which is the name he uses in an ad on a Website called prisonpenpals.com. "I'm not into games," he writes in the ad, "because life is too short and has gotten much shorter since being convicted unjustly and being placed here on Death Row in 1987. I need help because these people are serious about taking my life. I'm not all gloomy mind you. I enjoy a great joke and I do smile a lot, although not as much as I used to, it seems."

The ad sparked a relationship with a Dutch citizen, his new fantasy woman. "She's very nonjudgmental," he says. "She believes me when I say I didn't do it."

Rivera hopes the BSO review will provide a few more believers. "I prayed for it all these years, all these years, that the truth would come out," he says. Now it's up to science to determine if the truth is really on the side of Rivera, whose life may depend upon a single hair.

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman