State, defense lawyers seek delay of trial for man accused of killing Mollie Tibbetts

Lawyers for both Cristhian Bahena Rivera and the state of Iowa have requested that the trial for the murder of Mollie Tibbetts be pushed to 2021.


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

Caleb McCullough, Summer Editor

Lawyers for Cristhian Bahena Rivera, the man accused of killing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts in 2018, and the state of Iowa have requested a delay of his trial that is slated to begin Sept. 29 after a previous delay.

According to court documents filed Monday, both the lawyers for Rivera and the state asked that the trial be pushed back to January 26, 2021.

The file cites COVID-19 concerns as the reason for requesting the delay, such as the possibility of social distancing with nearly three times the number of regular jurors available for jury selection and the influx of cases when jury trials resume in September.

The document says both parties are concerned about the effectiveness of interpreters at the trial if witnesses, the judge, and other parties are required to wear masks.

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

Bahena Rivera has been charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of Tibbetts. If convicted, Bahena Rivera faces life in prison.

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