Cristhian Bahena Rivera Guilty of Murdering of Mollie Tibbetts
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Cristhian Bahena Rivera Found Guilty of Murdering Mollie Tibbetts

Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 26, was found guilty of first-degree murder on Friday in the death of college student Mollie Tibbetts, 20.

Bahena Rivera admitted to accosting Tibbetts while she was out jogging, asserted he blacked out, and then hid her dead body in a cornfield, prosecutor Scott Brown said. The defendant led investigators to the body, the state said. The victim’s blood was in the trunk of his car, consistent with his admission that he had her in the trunk, authorities said.

The defense maintained that the investigation was sloppy, and called the confession coerced. Bahena Rivera testified on Wednesday that it was actually two unknown men who killed Tibbetts on July 18, 2018. He asserted that he found the duo in his living room after he finished taking a shower.

In this account, the suspects–one of whom had a gun, and the other a knife–forced him drive them toward Brooklyn, Iowa, then had him pass Tibbetts several times when she was out jogging. The man with the knife left, then returned to have the defendant drive about 300 meters down the road. These two put an object (ostensibly Tibbetts’ body) in the trunk, and had him drive again. Bahena Rivera acknowledged lying to police in his statement, but asserted he did so because the two suspects threatened to murder his daughter and daughter’s mother if he talked.

During cross-examination, Bahena Rivera agreed that he was the only person who could take police to Tibbetts’ body. The prosecution confronted him, saying he never discussed the two unknown men with police.

During closing arguments, defense lawyer Chad Frese said that investigators failed to consider alternate suspects, including a man whose home was near where Tibbetts was found.

Brown dismissed the story about the unknown subjects. All of the credible evidence pointed toward Bahena Rivera, he said.

Aaron Keller contributed to this report.

[Screengrab via Law&Crime Network]

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