Mollie Tibbett’s Alleged Killer Appears in Court
MONTEZUMA, Iowa (AP) — A judge has ordered a man charged in the kidnapping and murder of an Iowa college student to be jailed on a $5 million cash-only bond.
Cristhian Bahena Rivera had been held since Tuesday on a $1 million cash-only bond after being charged with first-degree murder in the death of college student Mollie Tibbetts.
At a hearing Wednesday, Magistrate Judge Diane Crookham-Johnson granted a state prosecutor's request to raise the bond amount to $5 million.
Assistant attorney general Scott Brown noted that Rivera is suspected of being in the country illegally, and is charged with a "heinous crime." He says the higher bond amount would protect the community.
Rivera's lawyer, Allan Richards, said he plans to ask for a bond review hearing at a later date. He said his client is a young man who has no prior criminal history and has worked for a prominent local farmer for years.
MONTEZUMA, Iowa (AP) — The attorney for a Mexican man accused of killing an Iowa college student challenged the government's statement Wednesday that the suspect has been living in the United States illegally.
Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, made his first appearance in court in the death of Mollie Tibbetts, whose July 18 disappearance while out jogging set off a massive search.
In a court document, defense attorney Allan M. Richards stated that an employer has said Rivera has legal permission to be in the U.S. The document named Craig Lang, a former head of the Iowa Board of Regents, which oversees the state's three public universities. Lang is co-owner of a dairy that employed Rivera.
Rivera's immigration status was confirmed by an E-Verify electronic immigration status check, the Lang family said in a statement.
Richards sought a gag order and said comments about the case by President Donald Trump would "poison the entire possible pool of jury members."
He also asked that the proceedings be closed.
"The government has weighed in at the highest levels with a predisposition that my client is guilty," he said.