Man charged in Mollie Tibbetts’ death asks to delay hearing on suppressing evidence

The defendant seeks to delay the hearing in which a judge will decide whether his rights were violated, possibly tossing out his confession to killing the UI student as evidence that can be used in trial.

Cristhian Bahena Rivera (contributed)

Cristhian Bahena Rivera (contributed)

Marissa Payne, Editor-in-Chief

The man accused of slaying University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts has asked to delay a court appearance in which a judge will decide whether or not authorities violated the defendant’s rights.

Attorneys for Cristhian Bahena Rivera filed a motion Wednesday seeking to delay a hearing scheduled for Aug. 23 because of “the complex nature of the case,” according to the court filings.

The delay would allow attorneys more time to prepare for the evidence-suppression hearing, including the opportunity to review a 185-page report they received Aug. 11 from a defense expert and possibly secure other witnesses to testify.

Bahena Rivera was charged with first-degree murder in 2018 after leading authorities to Tibbetts’ body in a cornfield in rural Poweshiek County. Authorities have said he confessed to abducting and killing Tibbetts while she was on a run July 18 near her hometown of Brooklyn, Iowa. 

Defense attorneys Chad and Jennifer Frese filed a supplemental motion Aug. 8 to support their claims that the defendant’s rights were violated during questioning by law-enforcement officials. 

RELATED: Trial for Mollie Tibbetts homicide suspect delayed

In previous filings, they argued that authorities did not inform Bahena Rivera of his Miranda rights until hours after officials began to interview him. They are asking a judge to toss out his confession as evidence because they said it was involuntary, as they argue Bahena Rivera was not read his rights to an attorney or to decline to cooperate with authorities.

The attorneys argued in the Aug. 8 filings that the interpreter whom police provided to translate to Bahena Rivera in Spanish, his native language, “did not meet the requirements” to convey his rights because his rights were not read to him in their entirety. 

Further, the attorneys argue law-enforcement officials did not “receive proper affirmation that” Bahena Rivera, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, understood his rights.

A judge will hear those claims at the evidence-suppression hearing in Poweshiek County. The trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 12 in Woodbury County.

Bahena Rivera has pleaded not guilty. He will be sentenced to life in prison if convicted.