Cristhian Bahena Rivera was convicted of first-degree murder on Friday in the 2018 death of Mollie Tibbetts.
Rivera stabbed Tibbetts, a student at the University of Iowa, to death while she was jogging and then buried her body, prosecutors alleged. The case received significant media attention because Rivera is an illegal immigrant from Mexico. Many public officials, including then-President Donald Trump, weighed in when Rivera was first charged.
BREAKING NEWS: Jury finds Cristhian Bahena Rivera guiltly of First Degree Murder. #MollieTibbettsTrial
— WHO 13 News (@WHO13news) May 28, 2021
Prosecutors alleged that Rivera circled Tibbetts, and then attacked her when she threatened to call the police on him. They later linked a car filmed on surveillance video to Rivera. (RELATED: Illegal Immigrant Circled University Student Mollie Tibbetts Right Before Her Murder, Prosecutor Alleges)
Rivera’s defense attorneys argued that police coerced his confession. Rivera testified that two armed men broke into his home, forcing him to drive around town at gunpoint. Defense attorneys also argued that Tibbetts’ blood was in his trunk because the two men killed her and placed her body there.
Prosecutor Scott Brown described the testimony as a “figment of [Rivera’s] imagination” during closing arguments, ABC News reported.
Jurors deliberated for seven hours over two days before returning a guilty verdict.
Rivera will be sentenced on July 15. Judge Joel Yates ordered him held without bail.
This is a breaking story and will be updated as more information becomes available.