MONTEZUMA — Cristhian Rivera, the man accused of killing 20-year-old University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts, was in court Wednesday for the first 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 Rivera is admissible as evidence.
During Wednesday morning testimony, Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Deputy Steve Kivi said after several hours of interviewing Rivera, he rode with officers and provided “turn-by-turn” directions to locate Tibbetts’ body.
A second witness, Agent Trent Vileta with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, testified that their interview with Rivera began at 5:04 p.m. on August 20, 2018, and an immigration detainer was placed on him around 11:30 p.m.
Vileta was also asked about the interview techniques and questions asked of Rivera.
“[Someone] said to Mr. Bahena ‘you are f***ing up, you are f***ing up big time,” defense attorney Chad Frese said. “You don’t consider that confrontational?”
“I mean, when you look at the context of everything … when we do the whole integrity theme, it’s about owning up to mistakes and realizing you made a mistake,” Agent Vileta said. “I think it could certainly be viewed as confrontational, but it could also be viewed as trying to get him to understand the seriousness of what’s going on.”
The hearing will continue Thursday.
Rivera’s trial is scheduled to begin February 4, 2020 in Woodbury County.
Stay tuned to Local 5 News and WeAreIowa.com for live updates from the hearing.
WATCH: Part 1 of Wednesday, November 13 testimony on pending motion to suppress law enforcement conversations in Cristhian Rivera case
WATCH: Part 2 of Wednesday, November 13 testimony on pending motion to suppress law enforcement conversations in Cristhian Rivera case
WATCH: Part 3 of Wednesday, November 13 testimony on pending motion to suppress law enforcement conversations in Cristhian Rivera case