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Mollie Tibbetts' murder: Iowa judge delays illegal immigrant's sentencing as new witnesses emerge

Written by on July 14, 2021

Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 27, was set to be sentenced to life in prison without parole this week after being convicted in May of murdering University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts, but a judge delayed that sentencing Wednesday due to two new witnesses who have shaken up the case. 

Tibbets, 20, disappeared in July 2018 while on a run in her hometown of Brooklyn, Iowa. Bahena Rivera, a Mexican national who came to the United States illegally as a teenager, led investigators to her body in a remote cornfield about a month after she vanished and was convicted by a jury of first-degree murder on May 28. 

Bahena Rivera testified at trial that two masked men who actually killed Tibbets forced him to drive them around and dispose of Tibbetts’ body. Prosecutors dismissed Rivera’s claims, but his defense attorneys now say that two new witnesses came forward during the trial to support Bahena Rivera’s story. 

MOLLIE TIBBETTS MURDER TRIAL: JURY FINDS CHRISTIAN BAHENA RIVERA GUILTY

Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 27, was convicted in May of murdering 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts, but a judge delayed his sentecing this week after two new witnesses came forward. 

Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 27, was convicted in May of murdering 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts, but a judge delayed his sentecing this week after two new witnesses came forward. 
(Reuters/AP)

One of the witnesses, an inmate at a county jail, told investigators that a fellow inmate confessed to him that he and another man stabbed Tibbets after she was kidnapped into a sex trafficking ring, then framed a Hispanic man in her death. 

The second new witness told a local sheriff’s office that she was in a car with the same man a month earlier when he said, “That Mexican shouldn’t be in jail for killing Mollie [Tibbetts] because I raped her and killed her,” according to Iowa News Now

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Judge Joel Yates said Wednesday that he will hold new hearings on requests by Rivera’s attorneys, who want the state to release any information they have about the sex trafficking investigations. 

Fox News’ Melissa Chrise contributed to this report, as well as The Associated Press.

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