Why was Cristhian Bahena Rivera arrested?

CRISTHIAN Bahena Rivera is a farm laborer accused in the brutal murder of 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts.

Rivera's criminal trial began in May 2021, nearly three years after Tibbetts was killed.

Read our Mollie Tibbetts live blog for the very latest news and updates…

Why was Cristhian Bahena Rivera arrested?

Cristhian Bahena Rivera is accused of fatally stabbing the college student while she was out running in her hometown of Brooklyn, Iowa, in July of 2018.

Authorities say Rivera killed Tibbetts and concealed her body in a cornfield.

The disappearance of Tibbetts sparked a massive search involving hundreds of officers and volunteers.

Surveillance video showed a Chevy Malibu appearing to circle Tibbetts as she ran, and a deputy later spotted Rivera driving the vehicle.

Rivera would confess to approaching Tibbetts and killing her in a panic after she threatened to call police, according to detectives.

He allegedly led police to her body.

His arrest inflamed anger over illegal immigration. Rivera, from Mexico, entered the US illegally as a teenager, according to authorities.

Rivera, a father of one, was blasted by Donald Trump as a criminal who exploited lax immigration laws and was used as an example by the former president as he pushed for harsher immigration policies ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

Defense lawyer Chad Frese said during jury selection that Rivera enjoys the same rights as US citizens and that his lack of English language skills could not be held against him.

The defendant will participate in the trial through a Spanish-speaking interpreter. 

Tibbetts was studying to become a child psychologist at the University of Iowa.

When did the trial start?

Opening statements were scheduled for May 19, 2021, at the Scott County Courthouse in Davenport.

“We’re going to talk about the violent death of a young girl, Mollie Tibbetts,” prosecutor Scott Brown said during jury selection.

“It’s not going to be pleasant.”

Legal experts say ensuring a fair trial for Rivera will be difficult.

The trial was moved about 100 miles from Poweshiek County to Scott County after defense lawyers said residents around the small town of Brooklyn had strong opinions about their client's guilt.

Rivera, 26, has been behind bars since his arrest in August of 2018.


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