Claim of new suspect in Bahena Rivera conviction could lead to mistrial

A new suspect will be part of the upcoming sentencing of the man convicted of killing Mollie Tibbetts this spring, nearly three years after her death.
Published: Jul. 12, 2021 at 10:54 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Defense attorneys for Cristhian Bahena Rivera filed a new appeal saying another inmate admitted to being involved in Tibbett’s killing.

The appeal claims an inmate from a county jail near Poweshiek County named a new suspect in the killing of Mollie Tibbetts.

Attorney Eric Tindal says requests for a mistrial aren’t unusual, but the nature of this appeal is.

”You see an individual who asserts that they were in jail with another person. And that other person made statements to them that, at the time those statements were made, they thought were completely fabricated or made up,” Tindal said. “When they heard the defendant’s testimony in this particular case, it dawned on them that those statements might not be made up.”

He says the ability to verify these claims is going to depend on who these individuals are.

”Whether that’s cellphone records or other documentation, there needs to be some way to verify that these people were in the places that they claimed to have been.”

The appeal also referenced another person who also came to police and identified the same cellmate as being involved in the murder. Tindal said the multiple claims could help the defense attorney in their case for a mistrial.

The sentencing hearing is set for Thursday, July 15.

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