Immigrant Farm Worker Convicted of First-Degree Murder in 2018 Killing of Iowa College Student Mollie Tibbetts

An Iowa jury on Friday convicted farmhand Cristhian Bahena Rivera of first-degree murder in the 2018 killing of college student Mollie Tibbetts, whose slaying became a hot-button political issue.

The panel in Davenport deliberated for seven hours over two days before coming back with the verdict against Rivera, the 24-year-old Mexican national who led investigators to Tibbetts’ body in a Brooklyn, Iowa, cornfield nearly one month after she went jogging July 18 and vanished.

Tibbetts had been stabbed between seven and 12 times in the chest, ribs, neck and skull, according to the prosecution.

Rivera, wearing a white shirt and headphones to hear court proceedings translated from English to Spanish, showed no emotion as the single verdict was announced.

He could have been convicted of second-degree murder or manslaughter, but once jurors agreed on guilt on the top charge, those lesser options became moot.

District Court Judge Joel Yates ordered Rivera into custody with no bail and set his sentencing for July 15.

Deputies handcuffed Rivera and took him back to jail, as his defense lawyers and prosecutors cordially shook hands.

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SOURCE: NBC News, David K. Li

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