Judge rejects Rivera attorneys’ request for information, subpoenas could follow

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POWESHIEK COUNTY, IOWA — A judge in Poweshiek County has ruled that the state of Iowa doesn’t have to turn over certain court records to Cristhian Bahena Rivera’s attorneys before he is sentenced for the murder of Mollie Tibbetts. But the defense team has already promised they’ll continue to pursue the information.

On Thursday, Chad and Jennifer Frese asked in court that the state of Iowa turn over documents relating to criminal investigations involving certain individuals and all investigations involving sex trafficking in Poweshiek and surrounding counties. The Freses say they are investigating reports that another man has claimed credit for killing Mollie Tibbetts in 2018.

But on Friday a judge denied that claim and sided with prosecutors who argued the state isn’t required to search for and turn over these documents because the requests were too broad. The Freses promised in court on Thursday that depending on the outcome of the judge’s ruling there could be a ‘flood of subpoenas’ coming from them to procure the information they’re seeking.

Rivera was convicted of First Degree Murder in May and faces a mandatory sentence of life without the possibility of parole. His sentencing is now delayed indefinitely. The judge in the case will rule on a separate motion from Rivera’s defense seeking a new trial later this month.

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