• Mollie Tibbetts slaying suspect Cristhian Bahena Rivera pleads not guil

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    MONTEZUMA, Ia. ó The man charged with first-degree murder in the
    death of University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts pleaded not
    guilty Wednesday.

    Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, appeared before District Court
    Judge Joel Yates at the Poweshiek County Courthouse on
    Wednesday, where his charge was formally read to him.

    He said very little, listening through headphones as the hearing
    was translated into Spanish. Speaking through an interpreter, he
    confirmed his lawyer's statement that he would enter the not
    guilty plea.

    Bahena Rivera also waived his right to have a trial within 90
    days. Yates scheduled his trial for April 16, 2019.

    The entire proceeding lasted 10 minutes.

    Chad Frese, one of Bahena Rivera's lawyers, said his client was
    nervous ahead of the hearing, "but he's anxious to get this

    Speaking to reporters after the hearing, he would not say
    whether the defense team would request to move the trial out of
    Poweshiek County.

    "We will analyze that as the evidence comes in and time goes on,
    but this has got a lot of publicity," he said. "Thatís certainly
    a consideration."

    No matter where the trial takes place, they'll need to find
    somewhere with 12 impartial jurors who can hear the case, he

    Prosecutors declined to answer questions from reporters
    following the hearing.

    Bahena Rivera's arrest ended a five-week search for Tibbetts,
    20, of Brooklyn, Iowa, after he led investigators to her body,
    which was covered in cornstalks in a field in rural Poweshiek
    County near the town of Guernsey.

    He faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if

    Police have said Bahena Rivera told them he pursued Tibbetts in
    his car while she was jogging that night, before parking,
    getting out of the car and running behind and alongside her.

    When Tibbetts told Bahena Rivera she was going to call the
    police, he "panicked and got mad," according to a criminal

    "He then 'blocked' his 'memory' which is what he does when he
    gets very upset," the complaint states. "And doesn't remember
    anything after that until he came to at an intersection."

    An autopsy found she died of "multiple sharp force injuries."

    Frese declined to discuss the defense strategy he will pursue at
    trial, but defense attorneys unconnected to the case have said
    one possibility is that Bahena Rivera's claim of memory loss ó
    if it can be documented ó could open the door to the defense of
    diminished responsibility. That defense would require Bahena
    Rivera to admit to killing Tibbetts, but argue that due to his
    mental state, he was not able to form the intent to kill her
    that prosecutors must prove for a first-degree murder charge.

    Authorities say Bahena Rivera is a Mexican immigrant who was in
    the country illegally.

    Officials at Yarrabee Farms, where he worked for four years, say
    he used an out-of-state photo ID and Social Security number to
    secure employment at the Poweshiek County dairy farm, and they
    believed he was the person shown in those documents until his

    Federal immigration officials visited the farm for two hours
    earlier this month to meet with employees and owners. No federal
    immigration charges have been filed against Bahena Rivera or
    Yarrabee Farms.

    Frese said the immigration question "has nothing to do with this

    "Our focus is Cristhianís charge that heís facing and the death
    of this woman," Frese said. "Whether or not heís an illegal or
    legal immigrant really has nothing to do with the facts of this
    case, so we donít want to get into that argument at all."

    https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/crime-and- courts/2018/09/19/mollie-tibbetts-killing-cristhian-bahena- rivera-suspect-arraignment-brooklyn-missing-iowa-

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