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Prosecutors Show Car Trunk Blood Evidence in Murder of Mollie Tibbetts


Iowa jurors on Friday saw the blood evidence from the trunk of murder defendant Cristhian Bahena Rivera’s Chevy Malibu. The prosecution is suggesting the DNA found there belonged to victim Mollie Tibbetts, 20. The defense asked questions during cross-examination about contamination.

Bahena Rivera stands trial in the murder of Tibbetts, a University of Iowa college student who went missing while going out on a jog in her hometown of Brooklyn, Iowa on July 18, 2018. Surveillance footage linked the silhouette of a jogger to a nearby Chevy Malibu, the prosecution has said. That vehicle belonged to Bahena Rivera, who allegedly led investigators to the body. He allegedly confessed that he saw her on the street, stopped to run alongside her, and got mad after she threatened to call police. The defendant allegedly said he put her in the trunk of his car, and dumped her in a cornfield.

The defense postponed their opening statement until after the state’s case wraps up, but several clear themes emerge from cross-examination of the prosecution’s witnesses. They seem geared to suggest Tibbtt’s boyfriend as an alternate suspect, and to show that the confession was coerced.

Video played by the defense on Thursday showed Bahena Rivera sleeping during a police interview. Basically, they’re suggesting that he was sleep deprived.

Defense attorneys say Cristhian Bahena Rivera was sleeping during breaks in a police interview.

During direct examination, Former Iowa City Police officer Pamela Romero said that Bahena Rivera was aware he was not detained during the interview, and that he could have left.

For their part, the prosecution is trying to show the DNA analysis was credible.

The investigation uncovered several DNA samples from the trunk. It was determined that Mollie was in the area of that trunk, said criminalist Tara Scott. There was also a mixture of DNA from two other people, but analysis was unable to determine who, she said.

[Image via Law&Crime Network]

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