Alleged killer of Mollie Tibbetts is a legal immigrant, court motion claims

Christhian Bahena Rivera, who lives in Poweshiek County, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder on Monday, Aug. 21 in connection with the disappearance of Mollie Tibbetts. Tibbetts, of Brooklyn, Iowa, was an incoming sophomore at the University of Iowa. She was first reported missing on July 18, 2018.

Devyn Leeson

Cristhian Bahena Rivera, the alleged killer of Mollie Tibbetts, is residing in the United States legally, a motion for a gag order against law enforcement and government officials claims.

Rivera was reported to be undocumented at a press conference Tuesday by Assistant Director of DCI Field Operations Mitchell Mortvedt. But court documents filed Wednesday by Allan Richards, Rivera’s lawyer, claim Rivera is residing in the United States legally.

“[Rivera] has complied with his documented status since arriving in the U.S.A. as a minor,” according to the document saying the government should refer to Rivera as a documented resident moving forward.

The document says government officials are promoting the idea that Rivera “is not present in this jurisdiction legally.”

The document claims this portrayal of Rivera by law enforcement and public officials will make the possibility for a fair trial unlikely.

“The Government’s position of promotion of this idea will prevent any notion of the [Rivera]’s right to a fair trial,” the motion says.

Both President Donald Trump and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds made statements following Tuesday’s announcement that Rivera had been in the country illegally.

“Sad and Sorry Trump has weighed in on this matter in national media which will poison the entire possible pool of jury members,” said the document.

Rivera was working at Yarrabee Farms in the Brooklyn area which is owned by Eric Lang, brother of the former leader of the Iowa Board of Regents Craig Lang.

“Craig Lang supports [Rivera]’s right to be in this jurisdiction, and for the Government to support any other idea of status publicly flies in the face of such statements,” according to the court documents filed by Richards.

Yarrabee Farms did answer when reached out by the Daily. Richards said he had no comment on the case or Rivera’s immigration status when reached by the Daily.