Posted on March 29, 2019

Trial for Man Accused of Killing Iowa Student Mollie Tibbetts Moved to Woodbury County

Luke Nozicka, Des Moines Register, March 27, 2019

The farmhand accused of killing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts will be tried in Woodbury County, court records show.

Attorneys for Cristhian Bahena Rivera requested his trial be moved out of Poweshiek County and into a county with more minority representation in its jury pool. Prosecutors agreed a fair and impartial jury could not reasonably be selected in the county.


Bahena Rivera was charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of Tibbetts, 20, after he took investigators to her remains Aug. 21, authorities said. He confessed to abducting Tibbetts while she was on a run July 18 outside of her hometown of Brooklyn, investigators said.


Earlier this month, Bahena Rivera’s lawyers also filed a motion to suppress his interview, arguing he was not told about his right to an attorney or his right to decline to cooperate beforehand. They argued any confession he made was therefore involuntary.

Chad Frese told the Des Moines Register his client was “Mirandized” — shorthand in the legal profession for formally explaining a suspect’s rights, under the U.S. Supreme Court decision Miranda v. Arizona — nine to 10 hours into the interview.


If convicted, Bahena Rivera will be sentenced to life in prison without parole.