Trial for man accused of killing Mollie Tibbetts scheduled for September


Cristhian Bahena Rivera appears for an evidence suppression hearing at the Poweshiek County Courthouse on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019 in Montezuma. Brian Powers/The Register

Kayli Reese, Cops & Courts Editor

The trial for Cristhian Bahena Rivera, the man accused of killing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts in 2018, has been reset following multiple delays.

The trial will now begin 9 a.m. Sept. 29 at the Woodbury County Courthouse.

The trial was previously slated for Feb. 4, but it was delayed following a request for the Iowa Supreme Court to review an appeal regarding an evidence-suppression hearing held in November 2019.

RELATED: Judge rules to allow key evidence to be used in Mollie Tibbetts trial

At the hearing, Bahena Rivera’s attorneys argued that his rights were violated during his questioning and arrest for killing Tibbetts. Bahena Rivera was interviewed for 11 hours in August 2018, and he was initially given an incomplete Miranda rights reading. Defense attorneys were asking for some statements and evidence gathered at this time to be taken out of the trial.

In December 2019, Eighth District Judge Joel Yates ruled that most of the evidence collected by officers could be used in trial, excluding statements made by Bahena Rivera between his incomplete Miranda reading and the complete reading given later.

RELATED: Witnesses testify at evidence-suppression hearing for the man accused of killing Mollie Tibbetts

The Iowa Supreme Court denied the defense’s request to review the appeal and filed documents stating that the trial could be rescheduled.

Bahena Rivera was charged with first-degree murder following Tibbetts’ disappearance on July 18, 2018. Bahena Rivera led officers to Tibbetts’ body on Aug. 21, 2018 following his police interview, but he has since pleaded not guilty to her murder. If convicted, Bahena Rivera faces life in prison.