POWESHIEK COUNTY, Iowa – The trial of the man accused of killing Mollie Tibbetts will likely be delayed until 2021 due to COVID-19.
A joint motion was filed Monday by Cristhian Rivera’s defense and the State, asking for a continuance in his trial.
Rivera is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts. She disappeared in July of 2018 while jogging in her hometown of Brooklyn. Investigators say Rivera led them to Tibbetts’ body, which was concealed in a cornfield, a little more than a month after she was last seen.
There have already been several delays in the trial, but the latest trial start date had been set for September 29th. The trial is being held in Woodbury County because of pretrial publicity.
The motion filed Tuesday outlines several reasons both sides are asking for a delay in Rivera’s trial, including scheduling issues related to the pandemic like a “glut” of cases with speedy deadlines in Woodbury County and worries about social distancing during the jury selection process.
The motion says, “Both parties also share a legitimate apprehension as to how a trial can effectively be conducted with interpreters if parties, witnesses or the Judge are required to wear masks that obscure their face below the eyes while speaking.”
Rivera has waived his 90 and 1-year speedy trial rights, which means his trial date will be a secondary priority for receiving a trial date when jury trials resume in September.
Both parties have proposed a new trial date of January 26, 2021.