Mollie Tibbetts

Mollie Tibbetts: Alleged killer’s confession is unreliable from lack of sleep, expert testifies

A defense expert testified Thursday that Mollie Tibbett’s alleged killer, who was interrogated for hours last year, provided an unreliable confession, given his lack of sleep.

FOX28 reports that Brian Leslie, an interrogation expert, testified inside a Poweshiek County, Iowa, courtroom that after watching an 11-hour interrogation video between suspect Cristhian Bahena Rivera and investigators, he deemed Rivera’s confession unreliable.

Rivera, who’s accused of killing 20-year-old University of Iowa student, Mollie Tibbetts, sat with investigators for numerous hours as they quizzed him on his whereabouts in July 2018, after Mollie disappeared.

A search crew found Mollie’s lifeless body in a field in Poweshiek County, near her hometown of Brooklyn, Iowa. During questioning, Rivera told authorities he saw Mollie jogging on July 18, 2018, but when he approached her, she said she would call the police.

Rivera said he blacked out afterward, then woke up to find blood on his hands and Mollie’s body in the trunk of his car, according to police.

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Although Rivera never told detectives how Mollie died, an autopsy reported indicated that a homicide had taken place. Mollie died from sharp force injuries, although it’s unclear what weapon the alleged killer used.

Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, listens to the court proceedings during his arraignment on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018, at the Poweshiek County Courthouse in Montezuma, Iowa. Bahena Rivera pleaded not guilty to the charge of first-degree murder in the death of Mollie Tibbetts (Kelsey Kremer/Des Moines Register via AP, Pool)

The issue with Rivera’s confession, according to Leslie, is that the suspect had gotten off from a work shift at a dairy farm when investigators questioned him. By the time the interview finished, Rivera hadn’t slept in 24 hours.

“Based on the sleep deprivation aspect and the amount of various techniques that were used, I would in my opinion not take a lot of what was said as credible,” Leslie said, according to NTD.

“He appeared tired, sleeping, fast asleep, unable to wake up. and I believe there were 60 instances of that during the seven videos.”

Prosecutor Scott Brown argued that Leslie’s theory didn’t mention the evidence that backed up Rivera’s confession, including Rivera himself leading authorities to Mollie’s body. Leslie argued that it was strange that the deputy who drove Rivera to Mollie’s body failed to turn on his dashboard camera.

Regardless, prosecutors argued that solid evidence, such as Mollie’s blood found on Rivera’s car, should be admissible in court whether some of the suspect’s statements are admissible or not.

Judge Joel Yates, who presided over the hearing, is currently reviewing the matter. The judge said he would have a ruling as “as quickly as [he] can.”

Check back for updates.

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[Feature Photo: Mollie Tibbits/Handout]