MONTEZUMA, Iowa — Judge Joel Yates has ruled that the trial for 25-year-old Cristhian Bahena Rivera will not take place until the Iowa Supreme Court has ruled on a motion to review evidence in the case.
Bahena Rivera, charged with first-degree murder in the death of 20-year-old University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts, was set to go to trial starting Feb. 4 in Woodbury County.
In a court filing this week, Bahena Rivera’s defense attorneys asked for a trial delay due to a pending request to the state’s high court to examine whether or not certain evidence should be allowed at trial.
Judge Yates had previously ruled that while certain portions of Bahena Rivera’s conversations with law enforcement would be disallowed from being presented as evidence, he willingly and knowingly waived his Miranda rights before allegedly leading investigators to her body.
“The District Court hereby stays these proceedings until such time as the Iowa Supreme Court resolves the Defendant’s Application for Discretionary Review of Interlocutory Order,” Judge Yates wrote Wednesday.
In an application for discretionary review, Bahena Rivera’s attorneys write to the Iowa Supreme Court that “The strength of the state’s case hinges on whether Bahena’s interview is allowed at trial.”
“The District Court almost completely ignored and cultural or historical differences between Defendant, a Mexican national, and any other person when applying a wholly objective standard. This is error,” Chad and Jennifer Frese write. “Law enforcement used Defendant’s immigration status as a sword to keep him in custody when they needed to…”