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Change of venue ordered for Cristhian Rivera trial

The murder trial for the man accused of killing 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts has been moved to western Iowa.
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The murder trial for the man accused of killing 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts has been moved to western Iowa. 

24-year-old Cristhian Rivera, charged with murder in the first degree after Tibbetts went missing in July 2018, will go to trial September 3 in Woodbury County. A change of venue order was filed Wednesday in Poweshiek County. 

Tibbetts was reported missing on July 19, 2018 from the town of Brooklyn while she was out running. Rivera allegedly told police he followed Tibbetts in his car while she was jogging in town, then got out and started running beside her. According to a criminal complaint, Rivera confessed to police that he blacked out and that, sometime after, he remembered Tibbetts’ body was in his car. Rivera told police that he hauled Tibbetts’ body into a cornfield and covered it with stalks. 

In an additional filing Wednesday, Rivera’s legal team told the court their client “agrees the pretrial publicity surrounding this case has been extensive and pervasive” and consented to the change of venue.

The defense and prosecution had both written to the court stating that an alternate jurisdiction would be best given the low probability of finding a fair and impartial jury in Poweshiek County. 

A June 25 hearing will be held to address a motion by the defense to suppress statements from Rivera obtained by law enforcement, citing a violation of his constitutional rights against self-incrimination.