Mollie Tibbetts trial: Suspect testifies masked men committed crime, forced him to drive
DAVENPORT, Iowa (TCD) --
An Iowa jury began deliberating Thursday after the prosecution and the defense made closing statements in the trial of the man accused of murdering Mollie Tibbetts, a day after the defendant testified.
The Des Moines Register reports Cristhian Bahena Rivera testified that two armed, masked men arrived at his trailer and forced him into his Chevrolet Malibu on July 18, 2018.
He said he got out of the shower around 6 p.m. to find the two men standing in the living room of the trailer.
Rivera described the men as one large, heavy man and a smaller, muscular man, one with a knife, the other carrying a gun. He said one man was named “Jack.” He said he had never seen the men before that night, and has not seen them again since.
He said the men forced him drive around the area of Brooklyn, Iowa, where they saw Mollie Tibbetts jogging, the Register reports. He said the men made him stop the car along a gravel road where they had seen Tibbetts.
He said the man with the knife -- “Jack” -- got out of the car “for 10 to 12 minutes,” the Des Moines Register reports, and the other man stayed in the back seat of the car.
Rivera said Jack came back to the car and “put something heavy in the trunk,” the Register reports, and they all drove away.
Rivera testified the two men threatened Rivera’s family -- specifically, his girlfriend and his young daughter -- if he said anything. He said the two men ran toward a gravel road, according to the Register.
Rivera said he opened the car’s trunk and found Tibbetts inside “barely alive,” the Register reports. He said he carried her into a cornfield and covered her with cornstalks, where he left her.
Rivera’s Malibu was recorded on surveillance video in the area, which led to his arrest for first-degree murder. Rivera told police he was out driving, saw Tibbetts jogging, and got out of his car to talk to her. He said he got angry when she threatened to call police, and he blacked out. He said he later woke up at a rural intersection in the county.