Bahena Rivera sentenced to life in prison for murder of Mollie Tibbetts

Cristhian Bahena Rivera during his sentencing hearing.
Cristhian Bahena Rivera during his sentencing hearing.(none)
Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 1:47 PM CDT
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MONTEZUMA, Iowa (KCRG) - A judge emphasized that Cristhian Bahena Rivera “alone” was responsible for the murder of Mollie Tibbets before sentencing him to life in prison.

A jury convicted Bahena Rivera of first-degree murder in May, which carries the mandatory sentence of life in prison. Defense attorneys filed an appeal claiming new evidence that other suspects had come forward in the case but a judge dismissed those new claims.

“You and you alone forever changed the lives of those who loved Mollie Tibbetts and because of that you and you alone will receive the following sentence,” Judge Joel Yates said.

Tibbetts disappeared while on a run in July 2018 near her hometown of Brooklyn in Poweshiek County. Bahena Rivera led investigators to her body months later and her blood was found in the car Bahena Rivera was driving at the time she disappeared.

Before sentencing, a court reporter read a victim impact statement from Tibbetts’ mother, Laura Calderwood, describing the anguish she says Bahena Rivera set off. She described a race against the clock to tell loved ones of the fate of Mollie Tibbetts before they saw it in the news.

Bahena Rivera declined to give a statement before the judge read the sentence.

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