Judge delays sentencing after twists in Mollie Tibbetts' killing

2 months ago 18

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A justice agreed Wednesday to hold sentencing for the antheral convicted of sidesplitting University of Iowa pupil Mollie Tibbetts aft defence lawyers said they needed clip to analyse caller accusation pointing to different imaginable suspects.

Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 27, was scheduled to beryllium sentenced to beingness successful situation without the anticipation of parole connected Thursday astatine the Poweshiek County Courthouse successful Montezuma.

Judge Joel Yates issued an bid Wednesday saying the sentencing would beryllium delayed until aft helium holds hearings connected the defense's requests to compel prosecutors to merchandise accusation astir different suspects and to bid a caller trial.

Yates said helium would clasp the archetypal proceeding Thursday, but helium didn't acceptable a day for the different petition oregon for the sentencing.

Prosecutors stay assured successful Bahena Rivera's guilt, authorities lawyer general's bureau spokesperson Lynn Hicks said Tuesday.

A assemblage successful May recovered Bahena Rivera blameworthy of first-degree execution successful the stabbing decease of Tibbetts, 20, who vanished portion retired for a tally successful her hometown of Brooklyn, Iowa, successful July 2018.

Bahena Rivera, a dairy workplace worker, claimed successful his grounds that 2 masked men were liable for the sidesplitting and had forced him to thrust them astir and dispose of Tibbetts' assemblage astatine gunpoint.

Defense lawyers Chad and Jennifer Frese accidental 2 witnesses precocious came guardant independently to partially enactment Bahena Rivera's testimony. The witnesses told investigators that a 21-year-old antheral with a past of unit against women had bragged astir sidesplitting Tibbetts and blaming it connected a Hispanic man.

One of the witnesses said the antheral told him portion they were astatine the Keokuk County jailhouse that Tibbetts had been kidnapped and brought to a section "trap house" utilized for enactment trafficking earlier she was killed, according to the defense, according to Bahena Rivera's lawyers. The antheral said the location was owned by a 50-year-old who was moving the trafficking ring.

The Freses said they learned Tuesday astir a transgression probe that centered connected a 50-year-old antheral who allegedly met 1 of his enactment trafficking victims successful May 2018 astatine a state presumption successful Brooklyn, Tibbetts' hometown of 1,700 radical that is astir 50 miles (80 kilometers) westbound of Iowa City.

The pistillate told investigators that the antheral lured her to a location successful the adjacent municipality of New Sharon, wherever she was repeatedly drugged, raped, and held against her volition until August 2018. The pistillate said she sometimes would perceive different women's voices successful the home.

Law enforcement officials utilized the accusation to get a warrant to hunt the location days aft they interviewed her successful March 2019, but it had already been vacated by the 50-year-old man. They did not complaint him with immoderate crimes, and Mahaska County's sheriff said precocious the kidnapping and enactment trafficking allegations were ne'er substantiated.

Still, defence lawyers said successful a question that prosecutors should person turned implicit details astir the probe nether their work to supply exculpatory accusation to Bahena Rivera. They said the imaginable beingness of a section "trap house" corroborates the caller witnesses' claims.

During their closing arguments astatine Bahena Rivera's trial, the Freses noted that the 50-year-old antheral had travel nether scrutiny successful the probe into the disappearance of an 11-year-old boy, Xavior Harrelson, who vanished from his trailer parkland successful Montezuma connected May 28.

The defence noted the 50-year-old antheral is the erstwhile live-in fellow of Xavior's parent and that the 2 maintained a affable relationship. Investigators searching for Xavior began looking for the antheral astir instantly and arrested him connected an unrelated outstanding warrant successful different region the time aft the lad was reported missing. He has not been charged with immoderate crimes related to the disappearance.

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