Witnesses Say Mollie Tibbetts Was at Sex Trafficking House

Cristhian Bahena Rivera's sentencing delayed as attorneys seek new trial
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 15, 2021 7:47 AM CDT
Witnesses Say Mollie Tibbetts Was at Sex Trafficking House
In this Aug. 21, 2018, file photo, a poster for missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts hangs in the window of a local business in Brooklyn, Iowa.   (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

Cristhian Bahena Rivera, convicted of killing Mollie Tibbetts in Brooklyn, Iowa, was supposed to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Thursday. Instead, sentencing will be delayed as a judge hears a motion to throw out his first-degree murder conviction and hold a new trial. Defense attorneys say they've learned two witnesses told police that they'd spoken to a man who claimed he and a 50-year-old sex trafficker killed Tibbetts and framed the Mexican national, per ABC News. Both witnesses came forward May 26, the day Bahena Rivera blamed Tibbetts' death on two masked men. One witness said they were in jail with a man who admitted to raping and killing Tibbetts after seeing her bound and gagged at a sex trafficking "trap house" owned by his alleged accomplice, who feared retribution after authorities searching for Tibbetts turned up at a neighboring house.

A second witness thought to be under the influence implicated the same person, per KCCI, but Mahaska County Sheriff's deputies didn't find the account credible. Defense attorneys say prosecutors only revealed the accounts after Bahena Rivera was convicted on May 28. They say they've since learned police were investigating a "trap house" in New Sharon when Tibbetts disappeared 27 miles away on July 18, 2018. Defense attorneys submitted a police search warrant affidavit for the home that they say "corroborates the 'trap house' account," per ABC. They add the 50-year-old man allegedly operating the house is the former live-in boyfriend of a woman whose 11-year-old son disappeared from a rural trailer park on May 27. They claim at least 10 children have vanished in the vicinity of Poweshiek County in the last few years. Prosecutors are expected to respond Wednesday. (Read more Mollie Tibbetts stories.)

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