Sentencing for Christhian Rivera, the man convicted of killing University of Iowa student, Mollie Tibbetts, has been delayed amid new information that someone else allegedly took the blame for the murder.
On Wednesday, Judge Joel Yates ordered Rivera’s sentencing to be delayed after two witnesses told investigators that a different man confessed to the crime. The delay came about after the defense filed a motion, blaming the prosecution of withholding evidence.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, an Iowa jury found Rivera guilty earlier this year of murdering Tibbetts, who was out for a jog in Brooklyn, Iowa, in July 2018, when she vanished. Rivera told investigators that he spotted Tibbetts jogging, and slowed down and started following her in his black Chevrolet Malibu.
He then admitted he blacked out and woke up with blood in his car and Tibbetts stuffed inside his trunk.
Rivera was expected to be sentenced this week. Under state law, he’s supposed to be sentenced to life in prison.
Yet, according to Bahena’s attorneys, Chad and Jennifer Frese, an inmate at the county jail said in May that he heard someone identified as “inmate 2” admit that Tibbetts was “bound and gagged in a trap house but that he was directed to kill Tibbetts once the search for her got too close,” CBS 8 reports.
Inmate 2 allegedly said he was ordered to stab Tibbetts, who was initially kidnapped for sex trafficking, but killed after the case became too high-profile. Inmate 2 allegedly said he was ordered to hide the body near a Hispanic male in Tibbetts’ area, to pin the blame on someone else.
The witness said he came forward after he heard Rivera testify during trial that two other men killed Tibbetts and put the blame on him. The 50-year-old was reportedly identified as someone who once lived with the mother of Xavior Harrelson, 11, in New Sharon, Iowa. The boy disappeared from his home a day before Rivera was found guilty.
“Inmate 2 then went on to detail that he and another individual whom he identifies by name, were staying in a ‘trap house’ owned by an approximately 50-year-old man involved in the sex trafficking trade,” the motion read. “Inmate again thought Inmate 2 was exaggerating initially until he watched the end of the trial and heard Cristhian Bahena Rivera’s testimony which closely matched Inmate 2’s story.”
State prosecutors said the inmate is not credible and evidence presented at trial proved that the real killer is Rivera. Still, the defense requested that the inmate be given the opportunity to testify, although the defense had already rested its case.
Des Moines Register reports that the defense is now pushing for a new trial, in light of the inmate’s purported confession. The motion for the new trial request was filed on July 8.
Another witness also came forward in May, according to Bahena’s lawyers, and contacted Poweshiek County deputies. The second witness, who said she didn’t know the first witness, claimed that inmate 2 put a gun to his own head while in a car previously, and said, “that Mexican shouldn’t be in jail for killing Mollie Tibbetts because I raped her and killed her.”
“Inmate 2 then went on to detail that he and another individual whom he identifies by name, were staying in a ‘trap house’ owned by an approximately 50-year-old man involved in the sex trafficking trade.”
Yates said the first hearing will be held Thursday at the Poweshiek County Courthouse in Montezuma, ABC 7 reports. A hearing for a new trial will be scheduled for a later date.
Check back for updates.
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[Feature Photo: Mollie Tibbetts/Handout]