12:47 PM PDT, May 28, 2021
The jury deliberated for seven hours over two days before returning a verdict against Bahena Rivera, 24.
In closing arguments, the prosecutor scoffed at Bahena Rivera’s claims of being abducted by two masked gunmen who made him put Tibbetts’ body in the trunk of his car.
“There weren’t two other guys!” the prosecutor said. “That’s a figment of his imagination.”
Bahena Rivera’s defense argued he was a good family man who came to America to make a better life for his loved ones, and that “he’s not a monster.”
The undocumented Mexican national allegedly led investigators to Tibbetts’ body, which was in a corn field in Brooklyn, Iowa, one month after she disappeared on July 18. The University of Iowa student had been stabbed to death.
Video believed to show Tibbetts jogging that day was played in court, with what was believed to be Bahena Rivera’s car following behind her.
During the two-week trial, jurors heard that Bahena Rivera allegedly admitted to investigators he found Tibbetts “hot,” and that he allegedly fought with her. It was then that police said he told them he blacked out and only later discovered Tibbetts’ body was in his trunk. Investigators said he told them he left Tibbetts’ body in a cornfield, where he covered it with cornstalks. Forensic experts found smears of blood with Tibbetts’ DNA in Bahena Rivera’s trunk, officials said.
The first-degree murder conviction carries a maximum penalty of life behind bars.