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Cristhian Bahena Rivera testifies on Day 6 of his trial for the murder of Mollie Tibbetts

Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 8:48 PM CDT
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KCRG) - In a dramatic and shocking move, the defense called Cristhian Bahena Rivera to testify on Day 6 of his murder trial for the death of Mollie Tibbetts on Wednesday.

Listening and answering questions through a translator, Bahena Rivera testified that, on July 18, 2018, the night Tibbetts went missing, he was taking a shower in his trailer at Yarrabee Farms (where he worked) and that, when he came out, he found two random men standing in his living room.

Bahena Rivera said the men were wearing sweaters, had their faces covered, and claimed the larger man had a gun and the smaller man had a knife.

He told the court that the three of them got into his black Chevy Malibu and instructed him to drive, with the larger man in the backseat and the man with the knife in the front seat.

Bahena Rivera said the men tried to crouch down in their seats as they drove through town and that the men directed him to drive past Tibbetts three or four times before instructing him to stop the car.

He then testified that the man with the knife got out of the car, was gone for 10-12 minutes before returning to the car, and that he heard the man in the backseat whispering to himself, saying “Come on, Jack.”

Jack is also the last name of Dalton Jack, Tibbetts’ boyfriend who has already testified twice in the trial. Bahena Rivera said he was not alleging Jack was involved. Earlier testimony placed Jack at work in Dubuque the day Tibbetts went missing, more than two hours away from the crime scene.

Once the man with the knife returned to the car, Bahena Rivera said they told him to drive 300 more meters before he was instructed to stop again and hand over his keys. He said that’s when both men got out of the car.

He testified he heard the men opening the trunk and then instructed him to drive to the cornfield where, weeks later, Bahena Rivera would lead investigators to Tibbetts’ body. He said the men left and he got out of the car to check his trunk because he knew they had put something inside.

Bahena Rivera then testified that he saw Tibbetts’ body in his trunk, picked her up, put her in the cornfield, and covered her body with corn. He said he left Tibbetts phone and Fitbit by the side of the road and left, deciding not to tell anyone.

“I remembered they said if I did anything, they were going to do something to my family, my ex-girlfriend and my daughter,” Bahena Rivera told the court.

In cross-examination, Assistant Iowa Attorney General Scott Brown questioned the details of Bahena Rivera’s new story.

Bahena Rivera said he left the cornfield alone, with the two mystery men running down the road away from the scene. He told the court he doesn’t where they went and never saw them again.

The defense also called a handful of other witnesses today, ultimately resting its case.

Closing arguments are expected on Thursday.

Click here to see the live courtroom updates from coverage of the trial on Wednesday.

For Wednesday’s testimony and analysis, see the videos below:

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