Trial on hold for man accused of killing Mollie Tibbetts

While the Iowa Supreme Court reviews a ruling regarding an evidence-suppression motion, the trial for Cristhian Bahena Rivera will be postponed.


Brian Powers/The Register

Cristhian Bahena Rivera walks into the Poweshiek County courthouse for day two of an evidence suppression hearing at the Poweshiek County Courthouse on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019 in Montezuma. Bahena Rivera confessed to killing Molly Tibbetts last year but his attorneys filed a motion to suppress the confession because he was not properly read his Miranda warning during initial interviews with police.

Kayli Reese, Managing Editor

The trial for Cristhian Bahena Rivera, the man accused of killing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts in 2018, is being put on hold until the Iowa Supreme Court rules on an appeal regarding an evidence-suppression motion.

The trial was slated to begin Feb. 4 at the Woodbury County Courthouse.

The evidence-suppression motion in question was discussed in a November 2019 hearing. Bahena Rivera’s attorneys argued that his rights were violated during his initial questioning and arrest in connection with Tibbetts’ disappearance in August 2018. Police interviewed Bahena Rivera for 11 hours, his attorneys said, and he was initially given an incomplete reading of his Miranda rights.

RELATED: Defense for man accused of killing Mollie Tibbetts asks to delay trial

Eighth District Judge Joel Yates in December ruled on the matter and said most of the evidence collected during Bahena Rivera’s questioning and arrest could be included in the trial, excluding statements given between his incomplete Miranda reading and the complete reading he was given later.

Bahena Rivera’s attorneys also asked for a trial delay in order to depose new witnesses and review evidence the defense said it recently became aware of, including a knife and fingerprints and blood found in Bahena Rivera’s car that belongs to neither Bahena Rivera nor Tibbetts.

Court documents did not identify when the Iowa Supreme Court would reach a decision or when the trial will be able to start.