The attorney for the man charged with murder in the death of Mollie Tibbetts says he is in the U.S. legally, despite claims by government officials, including President Donald Trump.
Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, faces a first-degree murder charge in connection to the death of the 20-year-old University of Iowa student, who disappeared July 18. Investigators say Rivera led them to her body in a cornfield in rural Poweshiek County on Tuesday.
Rivera’s attorney, Allan M. Richards, filed a motion for a gag order Wednesday morning calling for the government to refrain from referring to his client as someone who is in the country illegally.
“Sad and sorry Trump has weighed in on this matter in national media, which will poison the entire possible pool of jury members,” Richards wrote in the motion.
Craig Lang, a prominent Iowa Republican and former president of the Iowa Board of Regents and Iowa Farm Bureau, has verified that Rivera is in the state legally, Richards said in the motion.
“Cristhian has complied with his documented status since arriving in the U.S.A. as a minor,” Richards said in the motion.
Rivera worked for Yarrabee Farms in Brooklyn, Iowa — Tibbetts’ hometown — for more than four years, according to Dane Lang, who owns the farm with his father, Eric Lang, brother of Craig Lang. Dane Lang spoke at a news conference Wednesday afternoon at the farm.
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Dane Lang said the farm did not use the Department Homeland Security’s E-Verify system to verify Rivera’s employment, but did use the Social Security Administration’s verification system. He would not say if Rivera used his legal name when applying for the job.