MONTEZUMA, Iowa — Cristhian Bahena Rivera, the man accused of killing 20-year-old University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts, is back in court Thursday for the second day of a hearing regarding his conversations with law enforcement.
Attorneys for the 25-year-old Rivera have claimed in multiple court filings that a language barrier existed between their client and law enforcement, and that his Miranda rights were not properly read to him, among other alleged issues.
Prosecutors have ceded that an initial Miranda reading was incomplete, but maintain that a large portion of incriminating information provided by Bahena Rivera is admissible as evidence.
Thursday morning testimony began with Alejandra Cervantes Valle, whose husband is Bahena Rivera’s uncle. She testified that she went to the Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Office on August 20, 2018 and waited several hours to see Rivera until he was done with his interview with law enforcement.
A second witness, Luis Medina, was also related to Rivera. His wife is Rivera’s aunt.
Medina testified that he never knew Rivera to speak English, and that law enforcement didn’t give him any information as to why they were speaking to Rivera.
Judge Joel Yates ruled that an affidavit from Rivera would not be allowed because he would not be subject to cross-examination.
“I was willing to allow [the affidavit] into evidence, but only under the caveat that the State would have the right to cross-examine Mr. Rivera,” Judge Yates said. “[The affidavit] will not be accepted into evidence.”
Rivera’s team later called two expert witnesses: Dr. Kimberly Fenn, a sleep researcher at Michigan State University, and Brian Leslie, an expert on interrogation and interview techniques.
Leslie testified that there were multiple instances of Rivera’s interview that showed a “vulnerability” due to fatigue.
The prosecution argued that Rivera’s admissions were willfull, and that he could’ve ended the interview at any time.
Bahena Rivera’s trial is scheduled to begin February 4, 2020 in Woodbury County.
WATCH: Part 1 of Thursday testimony in Poweshiek County on a pending motion to suppress law enforcement conversations with Cristhian Rivera
WATCH: Part 2 of Thursday testimony in Poweshiek County on a pending motion to suppress law enforcement conversations with Cristhian Rivera
WATCH: Part 3 of Thursday testimony in Poweshiek County on a pending motion to suppress law enforcement conversations with Cristhian Rivera