A judge has delayed Thursday’s sentencing for the man convicted of killing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbets after a motion for a new trial was filed earlier this week.
Defense lawyers for Cristhian Bahena Rivera in the new appeal say an inmate came forward during the trial and claimed a former cellmate had admitted to being involved in the killing.
KCRG TV reports that the cellmate, referred in court documents as Inmate 2, said he was staying in a “trap house” owned by a 50-year-old man involved in the sex trafficking trade. Inmate 2 admitted he saw Mollie Tibbetts bound and gagged at a second trap house that he had gone to, and admitted to killing her.
The motion for a new trial says a search warrant corroborates the “trap house” account.
The motion focuses on 50-year-old James Manuel Lowe, who was reported to be operating a sex trafficking ring out of the town of New Sharon during the time of Tibbetts’ disappearance from Brooklyn in the summer of 2018.
Bahena Rivera’s lawyers say they also have found at least ten children missing from Poweshiek and adjoining counties during the past few years, including Xavior Harrelson, who went missing this spring from Montezuma. An investigation discovered that Lowe had a relationship with the boy’s mother and they lived together for a time.
The station also reports that the motion for a new trial also claims that prosecutors failed to turn over the information they had about the trap houses and kidnappings, and defense lawyers need more time to prepare for a new trial.
Evidence linking Bahena Rivera to Tibbetts’ death included surveillance video showing his vehicle driving near where Tibbetts was jogging the day she disappeared, physical evidence in the trunk of the vehicle, and the fact that he led authorities to where her body was laying in a cornfield.
Prosecutors say they remain confident of Bahena Rivera’s guilt.