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State agrees some statements from Cristhian Rivera should be excluded in murder case

POWESHIEK COUNTY, Iowa (KTIV) – State prosecutors say an initial Miranda warning given to the man charged in the death of University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts was “incomplete” and some of his statements should not be used as evidence in his trial.

Cristhian Rivera has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of 20-year-old Tibbetts.

Tibbetts went missing July 18, 2018, after going for a jog in her hometown of Brooklyn, Iowa. Her body was found on August 21, 2018, in a rural area outside Brooklyn.  Officials say she was stabbed to death.

According to court documents filed in Poweshiek County on Friday, the state concedes an initial warning given to Rivera on Aug. 20, 2018, was incomplete, saying “the officer giving it inadvertently omitted informing the Defendant what he says can be used against him in court at a later time.” Back in March, Rivera’s defense filed a motion to suppress the confession.

The State says in court documents a second complete Miranda warning was given to Rivera at 5:50 a.m. on Aug. 21, 2018, near where Tibbett’s body was found where he directed authorities.

“After the second Miranda warning, the Defendant knowingly waived his Miranda rights and continued to speak with officers,” read Friday’s filing. “Following this second warning the Defendant made numerous statements that implicate him in Mollie Tibbett’s murder. The State asserts that the statements made following the second Miranda warning are admissible.” Rivera was arrested on Aug. 21, 2018.

The State says they are still reserving the right to use any of the statements made between the two warnings to rebut testimony.

Rivera’s trial is set for Feb. 4, 2020, in Woodbury County District Court. His trial was moved from Poweshiek County after the state and defense said a fair and impartial jury could not be reasonably found there.

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