Cristhian Bahena-Rivera, an illegal alien from Mexico, was charged in August of 2018 for the murder of Mollie Tibbetts. Police have said that he admitted to confronting Mollie and chasing her down. After a statewide search, Tibbett’s body was found in a cornfield in Poweshiek County, Iowa. According to Breitbart News, Bahena-Rivera lived in a part of Iowa that was surrounded by sanctuary cities, and he worked on a dairy farm using a stolen ID and Social Security card. It’s reported that Bahena-Rivera came to the United States illegally as a child.
According to the Gazette, 8th Judicial District Judge Joel Yates granted Bahena-Rivera $3,200 in state taxpayer money to pay for an expert witness to help him fight the murder charges.
Judges Yates explained that Bahena-Rivera qualified for stipends provided by taxpayers to help him fight the murder charge. Apparently, Bahena-Rivera’s defense team is expected to ask for even more money from taxpayers before the trial begins.
Bahena-Rivera’s defense team has said that the stipend was needed in order to hire a forensic expert from Criminal Case Consultants in Buffalo, N.Y. According to the lawyers, the expert will be able to provide some insight on different interrogation techniques and analytical investigative methods given the “length, context, language barriers, and other factors” that were involved in Rivera’s interrogation.
The stipend, which is necessary for the expert to begin his investigation, doesn’t cover the cost of the expert to appear at the trial or their travel expenses. Bahena-Rivera’s lawyer, Chase Frese, said that they will make separate requests for those funds if it’s necessary.
Judge Joel Yates approved the stipend on Tuesday, explaining that Bahena-Rivera’s financial affidavit shows that he is indigent, which qualifies him for public funds provided by the state. If he’ll need additional funds, the defense team will have to seek court approval.
This latest request is just one of several requests that Bahena-Rivera’s defense team has asked for. Just this month, the defense requested that his confession gets thrown out because he was not read his Miranda rights by the police first. They also asked if the jury selection pool could be moved out of Poweshiek Country because there are too many White Americans there. The defense has asked if the jury pool could be moved to a neighboring county where there are more Hispanic Americans. They believe that a majority-white jury is unfair in this case.
Before they made their request for jury selection, Bahena-Rivera’s attorneys said that he had the “constitutional right” to receive $5,000 in taxpayer money to hire a private investigative team to fight his charge.
As stated by prosecutors, security footage shows that Bahena-Rivera was the last person who saw Tibbetts alive while she was jogging on July 18, 2018, in Brooklyn, Iowa, which is the night that she went missing. Bahena-Rivera later told police that he saw her when she was jogging. According to prosecutors, this was when he walked up to her and began talking to her. Tibbetts apparently told Bahena-Rivera that if he didn’t stop following her she was going to call the police. The murder suspect claims that he “blacked out” after that.
Investigators believe that Bahena-Rivera stabbed Mollie Tibbetts to death, drove to a cornfield, and placed cornstalks over her in an attempt to hide her body. He is being held on a $5 million dollar bond, while his murder trial is scheduled to take place in September.