Skip to Content

Year in Review: Cristhian Rivera charged with Mollie Tibbett’s murder

Remaining Ad Time Ad - 00:00

It's been more than a month since the man charged with Mollie Tibbetts' murder was in an Iowa courtroom for an evidence suppression hearing.

Christhian Bahena Rivera now awaits his trial in Sioux City

Mollie was a 20-year-old University of Iowa student who disappeared while out on a jog in her hometown of Brooklyn in July of 2018.

Authorities say 24-year-old Christhian Bahena Rivera led them to the body of Mollie Tibbetts in the summer of 2018. Rivera made his first court appearance in August of 2018 -- charged with the murder of 20-year-old Tibbetts.

Over the last year, Rivera's case has seen a significant amount of motions and delays, along with changes in location. In March of this year, his original trial location was moved from Poweshiek county to Woodbury county, due to pretrial publicity.

A couple of months after the move, Woodbury county approved a reschedule of his trial from September to November, with a suppression hearing, which is when it's decided what evidence can be used at trial, set for August.

But when August rolled around, a 29-page motion was filed by his defense team, asking for his interrogation to not be allowed as evidence, stating he wasn't properly read his Miranda rights.

The state would later agree, saying the officer "inadvertently" failed to inform Rivera that anything he said could be used against him at a later time.

The next week, Rivera was granted a delay to his August suppression hearing, moving it to November, and a judge officially waived Rivera's right to a speedy trial.

And the delays continued. In October, Rivera's request for his trial to be delayed again was granted, moving it into 2020.

As the suppression hearing neared in November, prosecutors for the state asked a judge to make sure they can cross-examine Rivera in the hearing, even though he planned to enter a written affidavit of testimony.

Rivera's attorneys looked to suppress a portion of Rivera's interrogation, citing him not being read Miranda rights properly, while investigators told the judge about the evidence they collected.

The judge said, if Rivera entered a written affidavit of testimony, the prosecution would have the chance to cross-examine him in open court.

Rivera’s attorneys chose not to submit the affidavit. And just last week, a judge ruled prosecutors can use key evidence against Christhian Bahena Rivera.

The evidence is information given by Cristhian Bahena Rivera that led them to Tibbetts' body.

The judge did say some of Rivera's statements, said during an interrogation after he wasn't read his full legal rights, must be suppressed. The judge also ruled they can use key blood evidence.

Also, in July, court documents show the state of Iowa paid more than 12-thousand dollars in interpreter fees for Rivera.

The murder trial will begin February 4th in Woodbury county.

Vinny Lowerre

Producer & Multimedia Journalist

Skip to content