A judge has set a $5 million, cash-only bond for 24-year-old Cristhian Rivera, who’s accused of killing the 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts while she was out jogging in her hometown of Brooklyn on July 18th, and then hiding her body in a cornfield.
Cristhian Rivera was initially being held on a $1 million bond, but Assistant Attorney General Scott Brown argued it should be $5 million.
“We think it is appropriate given the severity of the charge, his immigration status — at least as it’s been described to me,” Brown said. “…What he’s accused of, obviously, is a very heinous crime and certainly the safely of the community should be foremost in the court’s mind whenever setting bond.”
If Rivera comes up with $5 million in cash, the judge ruled he can be released but must turn-over his passport and be restricted to staying in Poweshiek County.
Investigators announced Tuesday that Rivera had lived illegally in Poweshiek County for up to seven years. Rivera’s attorney disputes that assessment in a court document, indicating his client has some sort of legal status to live in Iowa.
Allan Richards, Rivera’s attorney, also asked that cameras be barred from the courtroom for the upcoming trial, arguing images of Rivera will be used to fuel the debate about immigrants. Richards said images of his client in a courtroom will be used by politicians debating the nation’s immigration system.
“In this particular case, the coverage that’s out there is really all one way,” Richards said, “and, in fact, the government has weighed in at the highest levels of a predisposition that this young man, Cristhian, is guilty.”
Federal officials say they have no record of Rivera applying for so-called DACA protection, nor do they find any documents indicating what Rivera’s “immigration status” may be
The family that owns the dairy farm where Rivera worked announced this afternoon Rivera used a photo ID and Social Security number that were not his own to apply for the job four years ago. A family spokesman told reporters he could not reveal the name Rivera used, because that information is part of the ongoing investigation.
Rivera’s next court appearance is scheduled for August 31st.
(Reporting by Joe Lancello, KBOE, Oskaloosa; additional reporting by Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson and Dar Danielson)