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PREVIEW: Attorneys for Cristhian Rivera ask for conversations with law enforcement to be suppressed

Prosecutors have ceded an initial Miranda reading was incomplete, but maintain that a large portion of incriminating information provided by Rivera is admissible.

MONTEZUMA, Iowa — The man accused of killing 20-year-old University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts is hoping that his conversations with law enforcement are ruled a violation of his constitutional rights.

Cristhian Rivera, 25, is facing a first-degree murder charge after Tibbetts’ body was found in a rural Iowa field in August 2018. Tibbetts had disappeared while running a month earlier.

Rivera “locked his memory” after getting out of his car and coming alongside Tibbetts as she was running the night of July 18, according to a criminal complaint.

Prosecutors say Tibbetts’ blood was found in the trunk of Rivera’s car.

Rivera’s defense team has 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 Rivera is admissible as evidence.

A two-day hearing will begin Wednesday morning on the pending motions to suppress the conversations with law enforcement.

Read summaries of the previous filings ahead of the two-day hearing in Poweshiek County

March 1, 2019: Defense files motion to suppress law enforcement testimony, stating that any alleged confessions were involuntary, and accusing investigators of promising leniency and violating Rivera’s constitutional rights

May 31, 2019: State files a resistance to the motion to suppress

August 8, 2019: Defense files a supplemental motion to suppress

October 18, 2019: State files a resistance to the supplemental motion to dismiss, in which they admit that an Iowa City police officer “inadvertently omitted” necessary information regarding Miranda rights.

“The State believes the Court must suppress those statements made by the Defendant between the first incomplete Miranda warning and the second complete Miranda warning based upon the omission of the warning that what the Defendant states to police may be used against him in court,” the filing reads. “By making this concession, the State does not concede the statements made following the incomplete Miranda warning are involuntary, coerced, or the product of a false confession.”

Rivera’s trial is scheduled to begin February 4, 2020 in Woodbury County.

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