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Selecting jurors will likely be difficult in case surrounding Mollie Tibbetts death according to legal expert

Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 6:56 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -Jury selection begins next week for the man accused of killing Mollie Tibbetts. Cristian Bahena Rivera is charged with First Degree Murder, accused of stabbing Tibbetts to death in 2018.

The first step will be finding jurors who haven’t already heard about the case and formed opinions. That will be the task at hand starting Monday in Davenport. The case was moved from Poweshiek County to Scott County because of the pre-trial publicity.

Mollie Tibbetts was just 20-years-old when she went missing while out on a run in 2018. Her pictures were everywhere as people searched for her hoping she would come home safely. It took more than a month for her body to be found in a cornfield in Poweshiek County.

When it comes to Bahena Rivera’s trial, one legal expert says it’s likely going to be a challenge finding jurors who don’t already have feelings developed about this case.

“They will be asked whether they’ve heard about it. And they will be asked whether they’ve formed views. And you know if they say they’ve formed views and they can’t put those aside and listen to the evidence and decide based on that, then they’re not, they’re going to be disqualified for cause,” said Professor James Tomkovicz from the University of Iowa College of Law.

Tomkovicz says jurors don’t have to be completely oblivious of a case, they just need to be able to judge the case solely on the evidence that’s presented at trial.

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