Illegal Immigrant Murderer of Mollie Tibbetts Found Guilty by Jury

Posted: May 28, 2021 4:15 PM
Illegal Immigrant Murderer of Mollie Tibbetts Found Guilty by Jury

Source: AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File

Cristhian Bahena Rivera has been convicted of first-degree murder in connection with the 2018 death of Mollie Tibbetts. 

The jury deliberated for seven hours over the course of two days before coming to a verdict, according to NBC News.

Scott Brown, prosecution attorney, said of the Tibbetts' reaction to the verdict:

(Tibbetts' family) are relieved. They're pleased with the verdict. The family of Mollie Tibbetts is a great bunch. They've been awesome to work with and the circumstance of course is always very tragic... They've been very supportive of everything we've done. We just wish them the best moving forward.

Rivera was taken custody with no bail and District Court Judge Joel Yates set his sentencing for July 15. First-degree murder convictions result in maximum sentences of life behind bars.

Defense lawyer Jennifer Frese told reporters:

In this case we’re very pleased that the jury took the time that they did to look at the evidence and to deliberate. It would be impossible to find a jury that hadn't heard about this case.

Rivera led officials to Tibbetts' body in a Brooklyn, Iowa corn field a month after she went missing after jogging in mid-July 18 of that year. 

On Wednesday, when Rivera took the witness stand, testified that two masked men forced him to take part at gunpoint and threatened to harm his family if they discovered that he told anyone.

Chad Frese, the other defense lawyer, said Rivera's story has been consistent since they met three years ago.

He had never varied from that version of events, not one detail. So we had to get something up there. We thought the jury needed to hear directly from him.

This case received national attention after Republicans highlighted that Tibbetts would still be alive if Rivera, an illegal immigrant, was not able to enter the country.