A 27-year-old illegal immigrant was sentenced to life in prison Monday for the murder of University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts.
The judge, Joel Yates of Iowa, also said that Mollie’s family would be paid $150,000 in restitution. He told Cristhian Bahena Rivera, the man who murdered Mollie, who was 20 at the time, “You and you alone forever changed the lives of those who loved Mollie Tibbetts.”
Through a victim impact statement, Tibbitts’ mother expressed her thoughts to the court. “I come here today not because I feel the need to address you,” she wrote, “I’m here to give a voice to our daughter.”
She added that her daughter just “wanted to go for a quiet run” and was devastated that Rivera had “violently and sadistically” ended Mollie’s life.
She also noted the deep impact on Mollie’s grandmother, Judy.
“Judy truly believed her granddaughter would be found alive, because who could harm such a beautiful, vibrant, young woman so full of life, and promise? Who could harm Judy’s precious granddaughter, let alone brutally murder her and dump her body in a cornfield?”
She ended her testimony by talking about Rivera’s own daughter, Paulina.
“I do hope one day Paulina has the opportunity to become a mother,” she said in her starter, “But how will she ever explain to her children who their grandfather is? This is the legacy you left behind for your only child Mr. Rivera. I don’t know whose situation is worse.”
Rivera, who illegally migrated from Mexico to work on an Iowa farm, stabbed Tibbet’s to death when she was out for a run in her hometown of Brooklyn, Iowa, back in July 2018.
Following a police investigation, Rivera admitted to the slaying and led the police to the cornfield where he hid her body. His defense team attempted to argue that he was compelled to kill Tibbet’s by several kidnappers, though the jury was not convinced, as NPR noted. He was convicted of first-degree murder in May.
As reported by the Daily Wire, Rivera’s defense tried to pin the blame on Mollie’s boyfriend, Dalton Jack. Jack was cleared by the police as not being near to the scene of the crime, and it was also noted that he was planning on proposing to Mollie and had purchased an engagement ring.
“Because of your act, Dalton Jack will never get to give Mollie the engagement ring he had purchased for her. Because of your act, Mollie’s father, Rob, will never get to walk his only daughter down the aisle. Because of your act Mr. Rivera, I will never get to see my daughter become a mother,” Calderwood wrote in her statement.
Rivera’s defense team will appeal the ruling.
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