Trial reset to September for man charged with fatally stabbing Mollie Tibbetts

Prosecution says trial to last 6 to 8 days

Cristhian Bahena Rivera (Photo supplied by Iowa Department of Public Safety)
Cristhian Bahena Rivera (Photo supplied by Iowa Department of Public Safety)

MONTEZUMA — A judge last week reset the trial for the man accused of fatally stabbing Mollie Tibbetts to Sept. 3 in Poweshiek County District Court.

Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, is charged with first-degree murder. His attorneys asked for a continuance in January, saying they hadn’t received all the discovery or evidence from the prosecution and needed more time to consult experts.

Assistant Attorney General Scott Brown, in a motion, said the prosecution didn’t resist resetting the trial. The material in discovery is “voluminous,” and there may be additional evidence provided to the defense as the case moves forward, he added.

Brown said the trial is expected to last six to eight days.

Rivera is accused of abducting and killing Tibbetts, a 20-year-old University of Iowa student who vanished while jogging July 18 in her hometown of Brooklyn, according to a criminal complaint.

A preliminary autopsy showed Tibbetts died from “multiple sharp force injuries,” which indicate she was stabbed with a knife or other sharp object.

Rivera, a native of Mexico who was illegally living and working in the United States, worked at Yarrabee Farms in Brooklyn and had been living in the area for years, authorities said.

The family who owns Yarrabee Farms previously said Rivera gave them false identification when he was hired as a farmhand. The owners admitted they didn’t use the federal E-Verify system to cross-check Rivera’s information.

Rivera remains in jail on a $5 million bail.

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