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Judge denies new trial request in Mollie Tibbetts case

Student Killed-Iowa
Posted at 6:54 PM, Aug 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-02 18:54:50-04

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A judge has denied a convicted man's request for a new trial in the 2018 killing of University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts.

Judge Joel Yates issued his ruling Monday, clearing the way for sentencing to proceed Aug. 30 in the trial of Cristhian Bahena Rivera.

The farmhand who came to the U.S. illegally as a teenager was convicted in May of first-degree murder in the killing of Tibbetts, who disappeared while out for a run near her Iowa hometown.

Bahena Rivera was to be sentenced to life in prison last month, but Yates postponed sentencing to allow defense attorneys to present a new theory about who killed Tibbetts based on information two witnesses gave to police.

Those witnesses came forward independently of one another and told police that a local 21-year-old man told them he had killed Tibbetts.

At a hearing last week, Bahena Rivera’s lawyers also presented information trying to link Tibbetts' death to the report of another woman's kidnapping and sexual assault in 2018 and the disappearance of an 11-year-old boy in the same county, the AP reported.

According to police, the prosecution pointed out during that hearing that Bahena Rivera's own testimony of what happened didn't match with what the two new witnesses told police.

The judge rejected Bahena Rivera’s attorneys' efforts saying that the evidence they presented after his conviction was known to them before he was convicted