December 3, 2021

Mollie Tibbetts update: Cristhian Bahena Rivera gets life sentence for 2018 slaying of University of Iowa student out for jog

IOWA CITY, Iowa — A person was sentenced to life in jail with out parole Monday within the abduction and killing of University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts, three years after she disappeared whereas out for a night run.

The video within the media participant above is from a earlier report.

Decide Joel Yates’ sentence for Cristhian Bahena Rivera was obligatory for a first-degree homicide conviction in Iowa, which doesn’t have the dying penalty. The 27-year-old former farmhand, who testified that he got here to the U.S. illegally from Mexico as a young person, has been jailed since his arrest in August 2018.

Yates pointedly rejected protection claims that others had been accountable for the crime.

“Mr. Bahena Rivera, you and you alone forever changed the lives of those who loved Mollie Tibbetts,” he stated.

The sentence caps a case that infected anger over unlawful immigration, fueled fears about violence towards solo feminine runners, and took a number of noteworthy twists throughout and after Bahena Rivera’s trial in Might.

Tibbetts’ mom, Laura Calderwood, addressed Bahena Rivera in a sufferer affect assertion learn to the court docket.

“Mollie was a young woman who simply wanted to go for a quiet run on the evening of July 18 and you chose to violently and sadistically end that life,” she wrote.

Calderwood recalled being instructed by tearful investigators that her 20-year-old daughter’s physique had been discovered, and racing to tell family earlier than they realized the information from the media. The toughest dialog was with Mollie’s grandmother, who was in disbelief that somebody “could harm such a beautiful, vibrant young woman so full of promise,” she stated.

She stated the killing brought about Hispanic staff to flee the realm in concern, prevented Mollie’s boyfriend from having the ability to give her the engagement ring he had bought, and meant her father would by no means stroll his solely daughter down the aisle.

“Because of your actions Mr. Rivera, I will never get to see my daughter become a mother,” Calderwood stated.

Tibbetts vanished on a rural street outdoors her hometown of Brooklyn, Iowa, inhabitants 1,700, whereas out for a run on July 18, 2018. Members of the family and associates feared one thing was unsuitable when Tibbetts didn’t present up for her summer time job at a daycare the subsequent morning.

Tons of of volunteers and regulation enforcement officers searched for weeks however got here up empty. Investigators started specializing in Bahena Rivera, who labored beneath an alias at a close-by dairy farm, after discovering a house owner’s surveillance video that appeared to indicate his Chevy Malibu repeatedly driving previous Tibbetts whereas she ran.

After a prolonged interrogation, Bahena Rivera led authorities to a cornfield the place he had buried Tibbetts’ physique beneath leaves and stalks. Solely her shiny trainers had been seen. An post-mortem discovered she had been stabbed a number of instances.

Bahena Rivera instructed investigators that he approached Tibbetts as a result of he discovered her engaging, and that he fought her after she threatened to name the police. He stated he then blacked out and got here to as he was driving together with her physique in his trunk.

Prosecutors steered Bahena Rivera had a sexual motive, noting Tibbetts was sporting solely socks and a sports activities bra and that her legs had been unfold when her physique was discovered. They constructed their case across the surveillance video, his partial confession and DNA proof of Tibbetts’ blood in his trunk.

“Based upon the facts and circumstances of this case, it is very well deserved,” prosecutor Scott Brown stated of the life sentence.

Bahena Rivera’s attorneys argued that his confession was false and coerced, and their consumer gave shock testimony at trial sharing a unique account. Bahena Rivera testified that two masked males kidnapped him from his trailer at gunpoint, made him drive whereas they attacked Tibbetts, instructed him on the place to dispose of her physique, and instructed him to remain quiet or that his younger daughter and ex-girlfriend can be killed.

The protection sought to forged suspicion on a number of others, together with Tibbetts’ boyfriend and a neighborhood deputy who lives subsequent to the place Tibbetts’ physique was discovered.

Prosecutors referred to as Bahena Rivera’s testimony a piece of fiction and a unanimous 12-member jury discovered him responsible.

However two individuals instantly got here ahead to inform police {that a} 21-year-old man with a historical past of violence had confessed to them that he had killed Tibbetts. Individually, a girl had instructed police she was kidnapped after assembly an alleged intercourse trafficker at a Brooklyn gasoline station weeks earlier than Tibbetts’ disappearance.

Yates delayed a July sentencing so the protection had time to research. Earlier this month, he denied Bahena Rivera’s movement for a brand new trial, saying the brand new info was unreliable and he noticed no motive to overturn the decision.

The protection plans to enchantment. Bahena Rivera and his protection attorneys, Chad and Jennifer Frese, declined to talk at sentencing.