Judge Joel Yates sentenced Cristhian Bahena Rivera to life with out the opportunity of parole, the obligatory sentence for first-degree homicide in Iowa, which doesn’t have the dying penalty. The 27-year-old former farmhand, who testified that he got here to the U.S. illegally from Mexico as an adolescent, has been jailed since his arrest in August 2018.
“Based upon the facts and circumstances of this case, it is very well deserved,” prosecutor Scott Brown mentioned of the life sentence.
Tibbetts, 20, vanished whereas operating on a rural highway exterior her hometown of Brooklyn, Iowa on July 18, 2018. Investigators had been led to Bahena Rivera after surveillance video from a home-owner appeared to present his Chevy Malibu repeatedly driving previous Tibbetts as she was jogging.
He ultimately led investigators to Tibbetts’ physique, which was discovered in a cornfield a month after her disappearance. She had been stabbed a number of occasions.
Bahena Rivera mentioned he approached Tibbetts as a result of he discovered her engaging and that she threatened to name the police. Prosecutors advised he had a sexual motive, saying Tibbetts was sporting solely socks and a sports activities bra and that her legs had been unfold when her physique was discovered. They constructed their case across the surveillance video, his partial confession and DNA proof of Tibbetts’ blood in his automotive’s trunk.
Tibbetts’ mom, Laura Calderwood, addressed Bahena Rivera in a sufferer impression assertion learn by a consultant to the courtroom.
“Mollie was a young woman who simply wanted to go for a quiet run on the evening of July 18 and you chose to violently and sadistically end that life,” she wrote.
She advised Bahena Rivera that the case precipitated Hispanic employees to flee the realm and prevented life occasions like her daughter’s boyfriend from proposing to her.
“Because of your actions Mr. Rivera, I will never get to see my daughter become a mother,” Calderwood mentioned.
The case elicited anger over unlawful immigration and was talked about by then-President Trump in a video posted on-line. He mentioned the “incredible young woman, is now permanently separated from her family” whereas blasting U.S. immigration legal guidelines. Some members of Tibbetts’ household pushed again on the narrative.
During his trial, Bahena Rivera shocked everybody when he testified that he was kidnapped from his trailer by two masked males at gunpoint. He mentioned they compelled him to drive and that they Tibbetts and advised him to get rid of her physique.
He mentioned they threatened to kill his former girlfriend and younger daughter if he did not hold quiet. Defense attorneys additionally tried to solid suspicion on Tibbetts’ boyfriend.
The case took one other flip after Bahena Rivera’s conviction when two individuals got here ahead and mentioned a 21-year-old man had confessed to killing Tibbetts. Yates delayed sentencing so protection legal professionals may examine.
In a request for a brand new trial, they tried to hyperlink Tibbetts’ dying to a younger lady’s report of getting been kidnapped and sexually assaulted at a house used for intercourse trafficking and the disappearance of an 11-year-old boy from the identical county. Investigators didn’t discover a hyperlink between Tibbetts’ dying and the lacking boy.
Yates denied the movement, saying a lot of the proof introduced was recognized to them earlier than the responsible verdict. Defense legal professionals mentioned they plan to attraction the sentence.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.