Opening Statements Wednesday in Trial of Mollie Tibbetts’ Accused Killer

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DAVENPORT, Iowa – Opening statements in the high-profile murder trial of Cristhian Rivera begin Wednesday morning in Scott County.

Rivera is charged with first-degree murder in the 2018 death of 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts in Poweshiek County.

Tibbetts went missing in July of that year while on a run in her hometown of Brooklyn. Police tracked down Rivera using security camera footage that showed his vehicle circle Tibbetts while she was jogging.

Investigators say during questioning Rivera confessed to killing her and that he led them to Tibbetts’ body about a month after she disappeared. It had been concealed in a cornfield near Guernsey.

At the time of the murder, the undocumented immigrant was working for Yarrabee Farms under the alias of “John Budd” and had been employed with the company for around four years.

The trial has been delayed several times due to the pandemic and questions over which evidence would be allowed. The venue has also been moved twice due to concerns about finding an impartial jury.

Eight men and seven women have been selected to determine the verdict in a trial that has already received widespread attention.

“Jurors can serve if they’ve heard of the case, it’s just they have to be able to set aside what they’ve heard about the case from the media or talking with friends, social media, those kinds of things,” said former Muscatine County Attorney Alan Ostergren.

The trial is expected to last roughly 10 days.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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