Both sides are scheduled to appear in court in the murder case of defendant Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 25. A judge will decide if his alleged confession to killing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts, 20, would be used in any capacity at his trial.
Prosecutors acknowledged that the defendant’s initial Miranda warning was improperly done: He wasn’t advised that what he said could be used against him. The defendant was only properly Mirandized hours later by the location where authorities located Tibbetts’ body, the state said.
Nonetheless, the prosecution still wants the option to use his initial statements to rebut testimony at trial. The defense has argued that his alleged confession was coerced. The state also insists that they can prove guilt without the statements in question.
“The defendant led police directly to Mollie’s body at the conclusion of the interview, he was seen in proximity to Mollie while she was running on the last night of her life, and Mollie’s blood was found in the trunk of the Defendant’s car,” they wrote in documents obtained by The Des Moines Register. “All of these facts are extrinsic to the interview and independently establish the defendant was the killer, not a false confessor.”
The trial start was recently pushed back to February 4, 2020, according to Iowa records viewed by Law&Crime. Tibbetts was initially reported to be missing, but authorities later found her. Investigators claim Rivera confessed to killing her. He allegedly said he approached her while she was out jogging, and that he became furious when she said she would call the police. The defendant said he blanked out the memory of actually ending her life, but he later found her in the trunk of his vehicle, authorities said.
The case caught national attention in part because authorities say Rivera is an undocumented immigrant. Tibbetts’s family has pushed back on anti-immigrant responses to her death.
[Image via Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Office]