Illegal Mexican immigrant on trial for murder of Iowa jogger Mollie Tibbetts is seen 'following behind her moments before she was stabbed' in video shown to jury

 The jury in Mollie Tibbetts' murder trial today was shown video of the 20-year-old college student's accused killer following her in his car before she was murdered.  

Investigators testified about how the video became a significant lead in the massive month-long search for Tibbetts, who disappeared while running on July 18, 2018, in Brooklyn, Iowa. 

Within days of obtaining the video, they had recovered Tibbetts' body from a cornfield and arrested Cristhian Bahena Rivera, a local farmhand and illegal immigrant from Mexico.


The testimony came on the second day of Bahena Rivera's first-degree murder trial at the Scott County Courthouse in Davenport. 

Prosecutors say the surveillance video, blood found in the vehicle's trunk that was later a match for Tibbetts' DNA and a partial confession by the defendant will be key to proving his guilt.

Bahena Rivera's defense team tried Thursday to cast suspicion on others who had initially come under scrutiny, including Tibbetts' boyfriend and local residents who had been investigated because of their past behavior toward women.


Cristhian Bahena Rivera is seen in court on Thursday as prosecutors presented video allegedly showing him following Mollie Tibbetts on a run before she was killed
Mollie Tibbetts

Cristhian Bahena Rivera is seen in court on Thursday (left) as prosecutors presented video allegedly showing him following  Mollie Tibbetts (right) on a run before she was killed

Investigators testified that surveillance video showed the ponytail of a woman believed to be Tibbetts passing through a neighborhood moments before a car matching that of Bahena Rivera drove by

Investigators testified that surveillance video showed the ponytail of a woman believed to be Tibbetts passing through a neighborhood moments before a car matching that of Bahena Rivera drove by

The black car above is believed to belong to Bahena Rivera and drove past the surveillance camera moments after Tibbetts was seen, prosecutors said

The black car above is believed to belong to Bahena Rivera and drove past the surveillance camera moments after Tibbetts was seen, prosecutors said

Surveillance video shows murder suspect's car in Mollie Tibbetts case
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In opening statements on Wednesday prosecutors said Bahena Rivera, 26, had told police that he passed Tibbetts running and turned around to get a second look because he thought she was 'hot'. 

Bahena Rivera allegedly admitted that he got out of his car and ran to catch up with her but became angry and fought with her after she threatened to call police. 

Bahena Rivera said the next thing he remembered was driving his Malibu with her bloody body in the trunk, which he then carried over his shoulder and hid underneath stalks in a cornfield, prosecutors alleged. 


Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation agent Derek Riessen testified that he collected the surveillance video shown in court Thursday from homeowner Logan Collins on August 14 as part of a citywide canvass of Brooklyn, and immediately began reviewing it with other agents. 

He said the next day a fellow agent said he believed he saw something significant, and Riessen thought he was kidding.

But additional review showed a person appearing to run through the neighborhood in the distance, entering and leaving the video frame in a split second. Riessen said he determined it was a runner who appeared to have a ponytail and was passing by at 7.45pm.

About 20 seconds later, a black Chevy Malibu with distinctive chrome rims, door handles and a mirror drove past. Riessen said that vehicle is on surveillance several times over the next 20 minutes, ultimately going back toward the direction of the runner at a higher rate of speed at 8.07pm. 

He said that Tibbetts is suspected to have been abducted on a rural road about two miles away around 8.20pm.

Jurors were shown several videos and photos of the runner and the Malibu, including some that were enhanced in size. Riessen said neither the driver nor the license plate could be identified on the video.

Poweshiek County Deputy Steve Kivi said he reviewed the video lead on August 15, 2018, after spending a month looking into what happened to Tibbetts, who was living in her hometown over a summer break. 

The next day, Kivi said he spotted the vehicle just outside of Brooklyn getting off of Interstate 80 and followed the driver, who turned out to be Bahena Rivera.

Kivi said that Bahena Rivera was cooperative during their initial discussion that day, calmly denying knowing anything about what happened to Tibbetts. 

The deputy recounted driving with Bahena Rivera and other law enforcement officials just days later to the cornfield where Tibbetts' remains were discovered.

Prosecutors told jurors that an autopsy found that she had been stabbed seven to 12 times in the chest, ribs, neck, and skull, and that she died from sharp force injuries
Prosecutors told jurors that an autopsy found that she had been stabbed seven to 12 times in the chest, ribs, neck, and skull, and that she died from sharp force injuries

Prosecutors told jurors that an autopsy found that she had been stabbed seven to 12 times in the chest, ribs, neck, and skull, and that she died from sharp force injuries

Police say that Bahena Rivera led them to the body after a lengthy interrogation that began August 20, although a judge ruled that those statements cannot be used at the trial because an officer failed to read him his Miranda rights.

Bahena Rivera allegedly made additional incriminating statements at the scene that can be used, including that he had approached Tibbetts while she ran, fought with her after she threatened to call police, and remembered driving to the field where he left her bloody body.

Kivi acknowledged that investigators never found a murder weapon. An autopsy found that Tibbetts had been stabbed seven to ten times in the chest, ribs, neck and skull.  

Kivi said several other county residents had come under scrutiny, but that no evidence was found linking anyone else to Tibbetts' death.

But the defense has worked to prove reasonable doubt by focusing on previous potential persons of interests, including Tibbetts' longtime boyfriend Dalton Jack. 

On Wednesday Jack testified that he had nothing to do with Tibbetts' death, saying he had been out of town for work and was heartbroken by her slaying. 

On cross-examination the defense sought to cast suspicion on Jack, painting him as an angry young man who had a tumultuous relationship with Tibbetts and had cheated on her with at least one other woman. 

Tibbetts' longtime boyfriend, Dalton Jack (above), was a key prosecution witness on the first day of Cristhian Bahena Rivera's murder trial - the undocumented Mexican farm laborer charged with killing her

Tibbetts' longtime boyfriend, Dalton Jack (above), was a key prosecution witness on the first day of Cristhian Bahena Rivera's murder trial - the undocumented Mexican farm laborer charged with killing her

Tibbetts' longtime boyfriend Dalton Jack testifies in court
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Jack, who is now an Army sergeant stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, testified that he met Tibbetts at high school and had been dating her for three years. 

He described her as 'happy, bubbly, goofy,' saying she liked to have fun and that she would would go for a run most days.

On the day she disappeared, Tibbetts was staying at the Brooklyn home where Jack and his older brother Blake Jack lived. She had been asked to watch Blake Jack's dogs while the brothers were out of town that week for work.

The brothers testified that they became concerned after learning on July 19 that Tibbetts had not shown up for work at a daycare, and she was not answering her phone. Both returned to Brooklyn to help search for her before calling police.

Her boyfriend testified that he had been part of a crew building a bridge in Dubuque, about 140 miles from Brooklyn. He worked 12 hours on July 18 then drank beer and played yard games with the crew before going to sleep at a hotel, adding that he never returned to Brooklyn that night. 

On cross-examination, Jack acknowledged he used to have a 'short fuse' and would get into fights. He said that he had 'screwed up' and cheated on Tibbetts once and that she discovered the relationship after looking through his phone. 

Jack said the two worked through the problem and never broke up but acknowledged Tibbetts told him three days before she disappeared that she remained sad and upset about his infidelity. 

On the day before she went missing, she had discussed one of his previous relationships with a second woman, Jack said.

With friends and police searching for Tibbetts, a woman with whom Jack has previously had a relationship sent him a text message asking, 'Dalton, is Mollie alive?' defense lawyer Chad Frese said, calling the question 'odd.'  

Bahena Rivera, who has pleaded not guilty, may have entered the US from Mexico illegally a decade ago

Bahena Rivera, who has pleaded not guilty, may have entered the US from Mexico illegally a decade ago 

Jack admitted that he initially told police that he was watching a movie in his hotel room on the night she disappeared and that he withheld information about his infidelity, calling it irrelevant. 

He also acknowledged that he told police his last communication with Tibbetts was a Snapchat he received at 10.30pm that night, but phone records show it was after 1am.   

He also said he did not agree to voluntarily testify and required a subpoena because he didn't want to be in 'the same room' as Bahena Rivera.

'I am obviously not his biggest fan,' he said. 'I wholeheartedly believe he's guilty.'

Jack said he joined the Army three months after Tibbetts' body was found because he was heartbroken and 'wanted to pretty much leave' their hometown.  

Bahena Rivera, who may have entered the US from Mexico illegally a decade ago, faces life in prison if convicted. 

The disappearance of Tibbetts, who was studying to become a child psychologist, prompted a massive search involving hundreds of officers and volunteers. 

Detectives said they zeroed in on him a month after she vanished after obtaining surveillance video showing a Chevy Malibu appearing to circle Tibbetts as she ran and a deputy later spotted him in town driving that vehicle. 

Bahena Rivera's arrest inflamed anger over illegal immigration with then-President Donald Trump calling him a killer who exploited lax immigration laws and Iowa's governor calling him a predator. 

The trial was moved roughly 100 miles from Poweshiek County to Scott County after defense lawyers said residents around Brooklyn, which has a population of 1,700, had strong opinions about their client's guilt. 

The town has been decorated with turquoise ribbons this week in Tibbetts' memory. 

Prosecutors say he stabbed her to death before hiding her body underneath stalks in a cornfield (above)

Prosecutors say he stabbed her to death before hiding her body underneath stalks in a cornfield (above)

Illegal Mexican immigrant on trial for murder of Iowa jogger Mollie Tibbetts is seen 'following behind her moments before she was stabbed' in video shown to jury Illegal Mexican immigrant on trial for murder of Iowa jogger Mollie Tibbetts is seen 'following behind her moments before she was stabbed' in video shown to jury Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 09:17 Rating: 5

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