An Iowa judge was expected to decide this week whether to allow the alleged confession of the man suspected of killing Mollie Tibbetts into his upcoming trial, but the decision will have to wait.
Tuesday's hearing was postponed until next month after a member of the defense team had a death in the family, The Des Moines Register reports. The hearing is now scheduled for Nov. 13.
Defense attorneys for Bahena Rivera claim that his rights were violated during his interview with investigators because his Miranda rights were not properly read to him before the conversation began.
Prosecutors have acknowledged that part of his interview cannot be used in trial because the initial officer speaking to Bahena Rivera did not deliver the entire Miranda warning and left out the portion of the warning that stated that anything the defendant said could be used against him in court, according to court documents obtained by The Gazette. However, they argue that the warning was delivered again a second time in a car where Bahena Rivera was being held about 5:50 p.m. on Aug., 21, 2018.
Prosecutors contend that the warning was delivered completely at that time and that Bahena Rivera waived his rights and made statements to investigators that implicated him in the crime.
A judge was set to weigh in on the issue Tuesday but the hearing was delayed.
But even without the alleged confession, one law enforcement source told Fox News that authorities believe they have an abundance of evidence that links Bahena Rivera, an undocumented immigrant, to the crime.
The source, who spoke to the news outlet on the condition of anonymity, declined to provide specific details about what that evidence might be.
Tibbetts disappeared July 18, 2018 while out on a run in Brooklyn, Iowa. She had been dog-sitting for her boyfriend—who was not in town at the time of her disappearance---when she vanished, launching a massive search effort and troubling the small, usually quiet, rural town where she lived.
Her body was discovered more than a month later on Aug. 21, 2018 in a field covered with corn leaves after authorities say Bahena Rivera led them to the body after his arrest.
Bahena Rivera was identified as a suspect in the disappearance after surveillance footage captured a black Chevy Malibu with “distinct characteristics” repeatedly driving by a female jogger believed to be Tibbetts, according to a motion from the prosecution obtained by The Gazette.
Weeks later, on Aug. 16, a Poweshiek sheriff’s deputy reportedly saw the vehicle in question during a “chance encounter” and began to follow it.
Eventually Bahena Rivera voluntarily stopped the car and spoke with the deputy with the help of an interpreter. He denied having any knowledge of Tibbetts' disappearance, but authorities would return two days later to interview him at his job at Yarrabee Farms, which was not far from where Tibbetts disappeared.
A search of vehicle allegedly found blood in the trunk belonging to the University of Iowa college student.
Bahena Rivera initially told investigators that Tibbetts had said “hi” to him while she was running and that he thought she was “hot.”
But as investigators pressed him, he allegedly admitted to killing Tibbetts after she'd threatened to call the police and disposing of her body.
The judge is expected to decide whether his entire confession or any portions of it will be admissible in court next month.
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