Cristhian Bahena Rivera pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder of Mollie Tibbetts and waived his right to be tried within 90-days. His plea was entered at the Poweshiek County Courthouse in Montezuma, IA, according to KHQ. Rivera was charged with the first-degree of Mollie Tibbetts, a 20-year-old University of Iowa student who was reported missing in mid-July, 2018.
Rivera made his first court appearance on August 22 and was held on $5 million cash-only bond. He faces life in prison, without parole, and his next court date is on April 16, 2019.
The suspect is a Mexican national also accused of being an illegal immigrant. He was held on a federal immigration detainer.
Rivera is 24-years-old and worked on a dairy farm just a few miles away from where Tibbetts’ body was located.
Tibbetts’ body was found in a field in Poweshiek County. She was reported to be stabbed to death and covered in corn stalks, on Aug. 21. A medical examiner declared that Tibbetts’ death was caused by “sharp force injuries.”
President Donald Trump used Tibbetts’ murder to bolster the case for stronger immigration laws, often criticizing weak immigration policies put in place by the Democratic Party.
A statement and video was posted on the White House Twitter account. It read: “For 34 days, investigators searched for 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts. Yesterday, an illegal alien, now charged with first-degree murder, led police to the cornfield where her body was found. The Tibbetts family has been permanently separated. They are not alone.”
President Trump released a separate video on his Twitter account. He specifically stated: “We need the wall. We need our immigration laws changed. We need our border laws changed. We need Republicans to do it because the Democrats aren’t going to do it.”