Trial for man accused of killing Mollie Tibbetts delayed to January

After the state and defense both asked for a delay in the trial, a Judge postponed the trial to January 25, 2021.


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.

Caleb McCullough, Summer Editor

A judge has postponed the trial date for Cristhian Bahena Rivera, the man accused of killing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts, to January 25, 2021.

The trial will now take place at the Scott County Courthouse in Davenport, Iowa, rather than the Woodbury County Courthouse.

This is the second delay of the trial, which was originally scheduled for Feb. 4, 2020. The trial was rescheduled to Sept. 29 after a request was made for the Iowa Supreme Court to review an appeal regarding an evidence-suppression hearing held in November 2019.

Lawyers for both Bahena Rivera and the state of Iowa asked in June for the trial to be delayed again. The parties cited difficulties with trial proceedings arising from COVID-19 as the reason for the delay.

The parties said they were concerned about 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.

Lawyers were also concerned about the effectiveness of interpreters at the trial if witnesses, the judge, and others were required to wear masks.

Bahena Rivera is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of Tibbetts, who went missing while jogging in 2018. In August of 2018, Bahena Rivera led authorities to her body. If convicted, he faces life in prison.

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