Trial for Mollie Tibbetts homicide suspect will still start on Nov. 12

Cristhian Bahena Rivera’s right to a speedy trial was waived at a hearing Friday morning.

Cristhian Bahena Rivera (contributed)

Cristhian Bahena Rivera (contributed)

Kayli Reese, Managing News Editor


The trial date for the man accused of slaying University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts in 2018 will continue as scheduled after he waived the right to a speedy trial at a hearing Aug. 23.

The trial will begin Nov. 12 in Woodbury County. Cristhian Bahena Rivera, who has been charged with first-degree murder, was present at the hearing with his attorneys.

According to court documents, the defendant on June 26 filed the waiver for a speedy trial, which allows the defense more time to prepare for the trial.

Court documents filed on June 21 moved the trial to Nov. 12 from Sept. 3 after 8th District Judge Joel Yates granted a motion moving both the trial date and a hearing date in order for defense attorneys to have more time to review evidence.

Yates granted another motion Aug. 14 that delayed the hearing regarding whether authorities violated Rivera’s rights when he was arrested last year. That hearing, now scheduled for Oct. 22 and Oct. 23, originally was slated to take place Aug. 23. The hearing that waived Rivera’s right to a speedy trial took that place.

Rivera’s attorneys, Chad and Jennifer Frese, filed a motion Aug. 8 arguing that their client’s rights were violated by law enforcement during questioning, including not being read his Miranda Rights until hours after questing began. They argue that anything said during questioning was then involuntary and should not be considered as evidence in the trial, according to documents.

The attorneys requested the delay because of “the complex nature of the case” and better prepare for the hearing, according to court documents, including reviewing a 185-page report from a defense expert received on Aug. 11 and possibly gathering more witnesses to testify.

The Freses also said in the Aug. 8 motion that there is no clear guarantee that Rivera, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, fully understood his rights, adding that the Spanish interpreter provided him “did not meet the requirements” to read him his rights and didn’t read the rights in their entireity.

Rivera confessed to abducting and killing Tibbetts when she was out for a run on July 18, 2018, near her hometown of Brooklyn, Iowa. He was officially charged with murder after leading authorities to Tibbetts’ body in a Poweshiek County cornfield on Aug. 21, 2018.

Rivera has pleaded not guilty to the charge of first-degree murder. If convicted, he will be sentenced to life in prison.

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