CRISTHIAN Rivera has been found guilty of murder for stabbing jogger Mollie Tibbetts to death and dumping her body.

Rivera stands accused of killing the jogger with a “sharp object” believed to be a knife – but Special Agent Trent Vileta said the weapon has not been discovered.

A decision was reached just after 1pm local time on Friday morning, after one day of deliberation. The jury was actively discussing the verdict for 7 hours, 16 minutes and 15 seconds.

Rivera stayed silent and showed little emotion as he was given the verdict, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

While questioned in a cornfield, Rivera allegedly told Iowa officer Pamela Romero that he followed Tibbetts in his car, got out and started running behind her.

The 26-year-old told cops that Mollie Tibbetts “tried to slap him and was screaming at him,” a cop has testified.

Rivera was found guilty on Friday afternoon

4

Rivera was found guilty on Friday afternoonCredit: Court Tv

4

Rivera said that Tibbetts noticed him and tried to use her cell phone to call police.

“He said that Mollie tried to slap him and was screaming at him,” Romero testified. “Mr Rivera said this is when he became angry.”

Blood found in the suspect’s Chevy Malibu trunk “was a first match” for the slain student a forensics expert testified last week.

Tara Scott, a criminalist in the DNA section of Iowa’s crime lab, said she analyzed a swab taken from a blood stain found on the trunk seal after investigators recovered Tibbetts’ body.

“The profile I had from Mollie Tibbetts and the profile from that blood matched,” Scott testified. “They were exactly the same.”

Rivera, 26, has been charged with first-degree murder in Tibbetts’ stabbing death. He has pleaded not guilty.

Tibbetts, 20, vanished while out running on July 18, 2018, in Brooklyn, Iowa.

The interrogation tape was shown on the third day of the trial

4

The interrogation tape was shown on the third day of the trialCredit: Court TV
Pictures showed bloodstains inside Rivera's trunk

4

Pictures showed bloodstains inside Rivera’s trunkCredit: Court TV

Investigators recovered her partially naked, decomposing body from a cornfield a month later.

During the interrogation, Rivera led police to the cornfield where her body was found, telling them, “I brought you here, didn’t I? So that means that I did it.”

The defense, who presented the interrogation video as evidence, argued that Rivera appeared to be asleep during part of the questioning.

Pamela Romero, who interrogated Rivera, said on the witness stand that she was not aware Rivera was asleep, but a look at the interrogation transcript showed she had told the accused man, “You fell asleep.”

  • RIVERA PREVIOUSLY SAID HE ‘FOUGHT’ WITH TIBBETTS

    During a lengthy interrogation that began August 20, 2018, Bahena Rivera said that he drove past Tibbetts while she was running and turned around to get another look because he found her attractive.

    He eventually said that he approached Tibbetts and fought with her after she tried to get away and threatened to call police.

    He claimed that he then “blacked out” but remembered driving with her body in the trunk of his car.

    He led investigators in the early morning hours of August 21 to a remote cornfield where they found her badly decomposed body hidden under corn stalks.

  • LAST SIGHTING OF MOLLIE TIBBETTS REVEALED

    The last sighting of Mollie Tibbetts has been revealed in a map of the scene.

    On Friday, Cristhian Rivera was found guilty of murder for stabbing her to death and dumping her body.

  • CRISTHIAN RIVERA TO FACE LIFE IN PRISON

    Cristhian Rivera has been found guilty of first-degree murder.

    In the state of Iowa, this charge carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

    He will be sentenced on July 15, according to ABC9.

  • DEFENSE ARGUES ‘PRESSURE TO CLOSE CASE’

    Rivera’s Defense Attorney Chad Frese argued that the pressure to close the case and earn justice for Mollie caused prosecutors to jump to conclusions.

    The prosecution ensured that all conclusions made were based on evience and facts.

    “The pressure to close a case doesn’t mean they go out and create their own evidence,” Prosecutor Scott Brown said. “They followed the evidence (and) that’s what we’re asking you to do.”

    “The defendant was not target. The evidence led investigators to Cristhian Bahena Rivera. … He targeted himself by becoming involved.”

  • ‘IT’S LIKE TRYING TO PROVE THERE’S NOT A SANTA CLAUSE’

    When asked whether or not Rivera’s defense attorney was able to locate the “two masked men” that he claimed killed Mollie Tibbetts, a lawyer said: “it’s like trying to prove there’s not a Santa Clause.”

    “Remember our client was really out in the middle of a very rural location,” Chad Frese said.

    “We tried to link it up the best we could with people we thought would have a motive… but that’s very difficult to establish.”

  • DEFENSE ATTORNEY SAYS PROSECUTORS DIDN’T LOOK INTO TIBBETTS’ BOYFRIEND

    Chad Frese, Rivera’s defense lawyer, said Dalton Jack, Tibetts’ boyfriend, seemed suspicious.

    After Rivera was found guilty, Frese said he would look at Jack in his appeal to the guilty verdict.

    “That’s a suspicious text if I have ever seen one, folks,” he said. “It sounds like someone trying to cover his tracks.”

    Frese referenced Jack’s texts to Tibbetts just minutes after she disappeared, saying his cellular “data straight up won’t work.”

  • DECISION TO HAVE RIVERA TESTIFY WAS NOT “DIFFICULT”

    Chad Frese, Rivera’s defense attorney, said the decision to have Rivera take the witness stand “wasn’t as difficult as a lot of people want to make it sound.”

    Rivera’s testimony “was exactly the version of events he told us going back to August 2018.”

    “Anytime you have a client who gives a statement like he did, and the fact that there was DNA evidence in the trunk and the fact that he led them to the body, it makes it extraordinarily difficult,” Frese said.

  • JUROR SAYS VERY “EMOTIONAL” TO REACH VERDICT

    Juror Robert Reed said the jury had a difficult time getting to the guilty verdict.

    “I think especially for a lot of us, it was very emotional,” he said.

    “What we really had to do is put all of our emotions to the side. And that’s not what it was about.”

  • US REPRESENTATIVE MAKES PREMATURE COMMENTS ON TRIAL VERDICT

    U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson made comments in support of a guilty verdict found in today’s case – hours before the verdict came to light.

    Hinson’s “statement on guilty verdict in Mollie Tibbetts trial” was made while the jury was still deliberating, forcing her staff to retract and reissue the statement.

    Mollie Tibbetts’ death was absolutely tragic, and my heart has been with her family during this unimaginably difficult time,” Hinson said.

  • RIVERA’S DEFENSE ATTORNEYS BELIEVE HIS STATEMENTS TO POLICE WERE COERCED

    Chad and Jennifer Frese were “disappointed” in today’s guilty verdict against their client Cristhian Bahena Rivera in the murder and disappearance of Mollie Tibbetts.

    They said they will be appealing the decision and will renew their arguments that were said during the trial.

    The Freses claimed Rivera’s comments to police were coerced and should be suppressed, along with the discovery of Tibbetts’ body.

  • RIVERA’S DEFENSE ATTORNEY CALLS HIM A “RESPECTFUL, KIIND PERSON”

    Chad Frese, one of Cristhian Bahena Rivera’s defense attorneys, said he was shocked that Rivera would be accused of committing such a crime given his pure demeanor.

    “We can tell you that getting to know Cristhian Bahena, we are very surprised that he would be the kind of person that would commit a crime like this,” Frese said.

    “He is nothing but a soft-spoken, respectful, kind person.”

  • DEFENSE ATTORNEYS WOULD HAVE “COME UP” WITH BETTER ALIBI

    Since 2018, Cristhian Bahena Rivera has claimed that two masked men were responsible for Mollie Tibbetts’ death and disappearance and has not changed his story since.

    His defense attorney Jennifer Frese, who said she will be appealing today’s guilty verdict, said she did not coach Rivera into telling that story.

    “We would have come up with something better than that,” she said.

  • RIVERA’S ATTORNEY WILL APPEAL

    Chad and Jennifer Frese, Cristhian Bahena Rivera’s defense attorneys, said they were disappointed in the guilty verdict and added they would appeal.

    They said Rivera never changed his story since 2018 about the two masked men he claims were responsible for Tibbetts’ death.

  • “WEIGHT OFF EVERYONE’S SHOULDERS”

    Bart Klaver, one of the Poweshiek County Attorneys in the case against Cristhian Bahena Rivera, said the guilty verdict served justice to Mollie Tibbetts’ family.

    The outcome was a “weight off of everyone’s shoulders,” he said.

    Tibbetts’ relatives, including her mom, watching proceedings in a room across the street from the courtroom, which was closed to the public due to Covid-19 protocols.

  • EVIDENCE “DEMANDED” THE VERDICT

    Poweshiek County Attorney Bart Klaver, one of the prosecutors in the case, said the evidence overwhelmingly showed Cristhian Bahena Rivera was guilty of the crime.

    “This was the verdict that the evidence demanded,” said Klaver after Rivera was found guilty of the disappearance and murder of Mollie Tibbetts.

    He added such violent crime almost never happens in his county of 18,000 people.

  • DEFENSE ARGUES ‘PRESSURE TO CLOSE CASE’

    Rivera’s Defense Attorney Chad Frese argued that the pressure to close the case and earn justice for Mollie caused prosecutors to jump to conclusions.

    The prosecution ensured that all conclusions made were based on evience and facts.

    “The pressure to close a case doesn’t mean they go out and create their own evidence,” Prosecutor Scott Brown said. “They followed the evidence (and) that’s what we’re asking you to do.”

    “The defendant was not target. The evidence led investigators to Cristhian Bahena Rivera. … He targeted himself by becoming involved.”

  • WHEN DID MOLLIE TIBBETTS FIRST GO MISSING?

    Mollie Tibbetts went missing during her routine jog in Brooklyn, Iowa on July 18, 2018.

    She was caring for her boyfriend’s dogs prior to her disappearance.

    Cristhian Bahena Rivera was identified as a suspect a month later after surveillance video revealed a dark Chevy Malibu appearing to circle Tibbetts as she ran.

  • DEFENSE ATTORNEY SAYS RIVERA DESERVES JUSTICE, TOO

    Defense attorney Jennifer Freese called for justice during her opening statements on Tuesday during the Cristhian Bahena Rivera trial.

    “Your heart should break for Mollie Tibbetts,” she said, according to KCCI.

    “Your heart should break for her family. Mollie Tibbetts deserves justice. Her family deserves justice, but so does Cristhian Bahena Rivera.”

  • WHY WAS RIVERA WEARING HEADPHONES THROUGHOUT THE TRIAL?

    Rivera can be seen wearing headphones throughout his trial on the death of Mollie Tibbetts.

    Rivera, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, is fluent in Spanish.

    Rivera wears the headphones so what is being said during the trial is translated from English to Spanish.

  • WHAT SENTENCE COULD RIVERA FACE?

    The sentence for first-degree murder varies state by state.

    In Iowa, the penalty for first-degree murder, a class A felony, is life in prison without the possibility of parole.

    Rivera will begin his sentencing on July 15.

  • HOW DID RIVERA REACT TO THE VERDICT?

    ABC News reported that Rivera nodded his head slightly when the verdict was read.

    Rivera was wearing headphones throughout the trial to translate what was being said into Spanish.

  • DEMOGRAPHICS OF THE JURY

    The jury at Rivera’s trial found him guilty of first-degree murder today in the case of Mollie Tibbett’s death.

    The jury consisted of seven men and five women between the ages of 19 to 71.

    Three of the jurors are Latino, Spanish, or Hispanic and the others are white.

  • DEFENSE IS ‘PLEASE’ JURY TOOK ITS TIME

    After the verdict was read, Defense Attorney Chad Frese’s wife and co-counsel spoke out about the time taken by the jury to reach a verdict.

    “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.”

  • MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST ‘NOT SURPRISED’ BY VERDICT

    Cynthia Alksne, a former federal prosecutor, and a MSNBC Legal Analyst was not surprised that Rivera was found guilty.

    “He led them to the body and he confessed that he blacked out down the critical time and he was on the video stalking her, circling her in his car. All those things together” made for a strong case, Alksne said.

  • WHEN WILL RIVERA BE SENTENCED?

    Rivera was found guilty today after a seven hour jury deliberation of murder in the first degree of Mollie Tibbett.

    District Court Judge Joel Yates ordered Rivera into custody with no bail.

    His sentencing will begin on July 15.