Convicted murderer Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 26, is scheduled to be sentenced Monday for killing Mollie Tibbetts, 20. You can watch in the player above.
Jurors found him guilty in May. Bahana Rivera confessed to investigators that he approached Tibbets while she was out jogging, but he blacked out (ostensibly wiping his memory of the murder) and hid her body in a cornfield, prosecutors said. He led authorities to her remains.
The defense asserted at trial that this confession was coerced. Bahena Rivera testified that in truth, two unknown men abducted him at gun- and knifepoint from his living room. They threatened the lives of his daughter, and his ex-girlfriend, then they forced him to drive around, he said. One of the men got out of the vehicle, and apparently attacked Tibbetts while the other man and Bahena Rivera stayed behind. The first man returned, made Bahena Rivera drive several hundred meters and put something in the trunk. The men made Bahena Rivera drive more, and he finally realized there was a body in the trunk, he said.
Jurors did not buy it. The defense tried even after conviction to bring evidence of alternate suspects, and they sought a new trial, citing a jailhouse witness who claimed to know who really killed Tibbetts. The judge rejected this.
“In reviewing the evidence and testimony provided at trial, the court finds the verdict was not contrary to the weight of the evidence,” wrote Judge Joel Yates in a filing obtained by The Associated Press.
Aaron Keller contributed to this report.
[Image of Bahena Rivera via Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette/Pool]
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