Mollie Tibbetts murder: Illegal immigrant who killed university student sentenced to life in prison

Mollie Tibbetts murder: Illegal immigrant who killed university student sentenced to life in prison

August 30, 2021

Jury finds Cristhian Bahena Rivera guilty of murder in 2018 stabbing of Mollie Tibbetts

Cristhian Bahena Rivera will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The man convicted in the 2018 death of Mollie Tibbetts, a University of Iowa student, was sentenced to life in prison Monday, three years after she disappeared while on an evening run. 

Judge Joel Yates sentenced Cristhian Bahena Rivera to life without the possibility of parole, the mandatory sentence for first-degree murder in Iowa, which does not have the death penalty. The 27-year-old former farmhand, who testified that he came to the U.S. illegally from Mexico as a teenager, has been jailed since his arrest in August 2018.

Tibbetts, 20, vanished while running on a rural road outside her hometown of Brooklyn, Iowa on July 18, 2018. Bahena Rivera led investigators to her body, which was found in a cornfield a month later. 

She had been stabbed several times. The case elicited anger over illegal immigration and was mention by then-President Trump in a video posted on Twitter. He said the “incredible young woman, is now permanently separated from her family.”

Yates rejected a defense request for a new trial earlier this month. Bahena Rivera’s attorneys attempted to link Tibbetts’ death to a young’s woman’s report of having been kidnapped and sexually assaulted at a home used for sex trafficking and the disappearance of an 11-year-old boy from the same county.

This is a developing story. Check back for more details.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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