CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) – After nearly 3 years, the man accused of killing Mollie Tibbetts is due to be tried on Monday with the jury’s choice. Cristhian Bahena Rivera is charged with first-degree murder, accused of stabbing Tibbetts to death.
Tibbetts was last seen on July 18, 2018 while running in her hometown, Brooklyn. The University of Iowa student was reported missing the next day
The FBI and people in the community searched for Tibbetts for weeks, including a pig farm in Guernsey. Police arrested Bahena Rivera, and prosecutors filed first-degree murder charges on August 21, 2018.
Police say he took them to Tibbett’s body in a corn field. Eric Tindal is a defense attorney for Keegan Tindal and Jaeger in Iowa City. He says he covered many murder trials.
“I think what makes this trial stand out is the national attention it received at the beginning of the case,” he said. “And the national attention he received due to the political environment, especially to illegal immigrants at the time.” He says this will create some challenges for the jury selection, even with the trial transferred to Scott County. “Really, the trick in selecting the jury is trying to get things out or putting some of the implicit tendencies of each judge on the table,” he said.
Tindal says that Bahena Rivera’s team will have to overcome the assumption of guilt for their client and will have to put doubts in the jury’s mind. While the prosecution will focus on the evidence it has collected over almost 3 years.
“In this particular case, as far as I understand these facts,” he said. “The defendant actually took them to the area where the body was found. I think it is the strongest fact that the state has in its arsenal. “
Tindal says the trial could last 2 weeks, but possibly longer, depending on how the jury is selected.
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