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Mollie Tibbetts case: Farm worker found guilty of killing University of Iowa student

Cristhian Bahena Rivera, an undocumented 26-year-old farm worker, was found guilty of first-degree murder on Friday. in the abduction and assault of college student Mollie Tibbetts in July 2018.

The verdict comes nearly three years after the body of a 20-year-old woman was found in an Iowa field.

Rivera put on headphones to interpret the verdict. Stand and nod slightly while reading the verdict.

The trial is scheduled for July 15.

[Previous story, posted at 10:12 a.m. ET]

An Iowa jury has indicted the murder trial of Cristhian Bahena Rivera, a farm worker accused of kidnapping and stabbing 20-year-old college student Mollie Tibbetts in July 201


The verdict is expected to be announced shortly.

Bahena Rivera, a 26-year-old undocumented immigrant from Mexico, admitted in an interview with police in August 2018 that he followed Tibbetts as she went for an evening run, angry at her and “come unconscious”, according to the affidavit. and testimony at trial He said that later He arrived and realized she was bleeding in the trunk of his car. She was then buried in a remote field in Iowa.

Bahana Rivera then led the police to the fields. Investigators found her body had stab wounds to death, prosecutors said.

But in his testimony on Wednesday, Bahana Rivera, speaking through an interpreter, told a very different story. He said that two mysterious masked men abducted him. Forcing him to participate in a plot to kill the Tibbetts, threatens his family and tells him to stay quiet.

to close an argument Attorney Scott Brown denied that testimony and said it was inconsistent with the evidence.

“There are no other two men. That was his imagination,” Brown told the jury. “All convincing evidence in this case points to him.”

Cristhian Bahena Rivera speaks with an interpreter in court during a hearing on May 26, 2021.

Defense attorney Chad Frese said prosecutors had no murder weapons. no scene no witnesses no confession no motivation and there is no scientific evidence to prove his client’s guilt. He said Bahena Rivera’s original statement to investigators was under duress during the 11-hour investigation.

“We think that Cristhian’s ‘confession’ or statement is inaccurate or false,” Frese said.

The trial comes nearly three years after Tibbetts disappeared following a run in Brooklyn, Iowa, sparking a widespread search and attracting national attention. The case reached the jury on Thursday.

She studied psychology at the University of Iowa. and want to get a PhD and write a book her father said Meanwhile, Bahena Rivera had worked at Yarrabee Farms, a nearby dairy farm, for four years.

Her death and Rivera’s undocumented status drove the tragic story into a furious partisan political debate over immigration. Former President Donald Trump picked up her story as part of a push to frame undocumented immigrants as rapists and murderers. Although the available evidence shows that undocumented status is not correlated with a crime.

Mollie’s father Rob Tibbetts has urged politicians to stop using his daughter’s death as an anti-immigration campaign. By saying that she believes these comments “It is profoundly racist.”

Surprised man wearing a mask

The prosecution takes place on three key issues: video surveillance of Bahena Rivera’s car near Tibbetts, her visit to the investigation in August 2018, and her DNA found in his coffin.

“When you gather this evidence There will be no conclusion other than the defendant who killed Molly Tibbetts,” Povecheek District Attorney Bart Claver said at the start of the trial.

A murder trial begins in the death of 20-year-old University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts.
After searching for her for more than a month, the disruption of the case came when home surveillance video on the night of July 18, 2018 found a silhouette of a running woman. As with repeated black Chevy Malibu sightings, prosecutors said, investigators later found the car and identified the driver as Bahena Rivera, Klaver said.

After initially denying knowledge of Tibbetts, he admitted that he saw her the night she disappeared. Said he found her attractive and said he circled back to watch it again, Klaver told the jury he allegedly admitted he followed Tibbetts and trotted beside her. She threatened to call the police. And Rivera admitted that he was angry and quarreled with her. Claver told the court.

“The next thing he remembers” was that he was driving and learned that the Tibbetts were in his trunk, Klaver said. Rivera allegedly admitted that he had her bloodstained body off the trunk. take her to the fields and placed a corn stalk over her body, according to Klaver.

He then led investigators to the scene. Her body was found hidden under a corn plant, prosecutors said.

Although Bahena Rivera did not explicitly tell investigators that he stabbed Tibbetts, prosecutors said that was the only conclusion.

“He said he was unconscious, he wasn’t killed, he just didn’t tell. (Inspector),” Brown said on Thursday.

The man led the police to deliver the body.  Faces murder charge in Molly Tibbett case

“He was telling the authorities. To say those words, ‘I killed Mollie Tibbetts’, that’s what he said, that’s what the entire text points to. he added.

Bahena Rivera’s testimony in self-defense on Wednesday strongly contradicted his previous recruit.

He testified that he was taking a shower when two unidentified masked men broke into his trailer and asked him for help. One had a knife and the other had a gun, he said.

He testified that they forced themselves into his black Chevy Malibu and told him to drive to town. That’s when he said they met a girl he knew as Tibbetts.

Bahana Rivera testified that he had been ordered to stop. As the man with the knife got out of the car He said the two men got out of the car and heard the sound of people opening and closing the car. when the man leaves He said he found Tibbetts’ body in the trunk, he said he had her body removed from the trunk. put her in the corn field and covered her body with corn stalks.

Bahana Rivera said he didn’t know why these people asked him for help. He testified that he pleaded guilty to police because he feared the man would hurt his daughter and ex-girlfriend. And because he thought telling the investigators what they wanted to hear would help him.

CNN’s Carma Hassan contributed to this report.

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