Investigators Testify About Interviews with Man Charged with Mollie Tibbetts’ Murder

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MONTEZUMA, Iowa — A hearing on a motion to suppress a portion of Cristhian Rivera’s interview with police, in which he is alleged to have admitted to killing Mollie Tibbetts, is underway Wednesday at the Poweshiek County courthouse.

The judge in the case is considering whether the interview can be used during Rivera’s murder trial.

Tibbetts disappeared while jogging in her hometown of Brooklyn in July of 2018. Her body was found just over a month after she was last seen.

Rivera’s attorneys claim that he was not properly read his Miranda warning during the interview. Police say that had been rectified by the time Rivera took them to Tibbetts’ body.

During one of the morning sessions Wednesday, attorneys questioned several members of law enforcement who were involved in the investigation and interviewed Rivera.

Officials talked about that lengthy interview as well as the day when they say Rivera led them to her body, which was found in a cornfield in Poweshiek County.

We went back maybe a quarter of a mile and he told us to stop. At that point where we were stopped on our left there was standing corn, but there was a long lane, like it’d been an old driveway or something right into the middle of the cornfield. He told us that’s where we would find her,” Poweshiek Deputy Sheriff Steve Kivi told attorneys during the hearing.

They also discussed the evidence they found in the trunk of Rivera’s car.

An attorney for the state asked, “Were there items or anything found of interest in the trunk of the Malibu?”

DCI Special Agent Trent Vileta testified, “Yes there are two areas where they discovered blood one was the rubber seal of the trunk and the other was the liner of the trunk.”

After being asked if the blood was a DNA match to Mollie Tibbetts’, Vileta replied, “Yes.”

The court took a break for lunch and the hearing resumed at 1:00 p.m.

Attorneys later called Former Iowa City Police Officer Pamela Romero to the stand. She said she was called in to help translate during law enforcement’s interview with Rivera.

Romero said she did not read Rivera his Miranda Rights at the beginning of the interview because he was not being detained, but she did read them to him twice later.

“I read them once in the interview room and the refresher when he showed us where the body was,” Romero said.

The hearing is scheduled to resume at the Poweshiek County Courthouse at 8:45 a.m. on Thursday.

Rivera’s trial is scheduled for February 4th in Woodbury County.


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