Man charged in Mollie Tibbetts’ death pleads not guilty

Cristhian Bahena Rivera appeared for his arraignment at the Poweshiek County Courthouse on Wednesday morning and pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Mollie Tibbetts.

Cristhian Bahena Rivera (contributed)

Cristhian Bahena Rivera (contributed)

Gage Miskimen, Editor in Chief

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Cristhian Bahena Rivera, the man accused of killing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts, appeared in court Sept. 19 for his arraignment at the Poweshiek County Courthouse.

Appearing before 8A District Court Judge Joel Yates, Rivera pleaded not guilty to the charge of first-degree murder, a Class-A felony.

Yates set the trial for April 16, 2019.

If convicted, Rivera faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Tibbetts vanished in July, and her body was found in a cornfield in rural Poweshiek County on Aug. 21. An autopsy labeled the death a homicide and said Tibbetts died from numerous sharp-force injuries.

In a previous press conference, authorities said Rivera told investigators he followed Tibbetts in his car as she was jogging on July 18. He then got out of his car and ran after her.

Tibbetts told Rivera she was going to call the police, he said. According to the criminal complaint, Rivera then “panicked and got mad.”

According to a criminal complaint, Rivera said “he ‘blocked’ his memory, which he does when he gets very upset,” regarding his interaction with Tibbetts.