A police officer who obtained a confession from the suspect in the disappearance and death of University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts says she made an honest mistake by initially failing to read him his legal rights.
Officer Pamela Romero testified Wednesday that she tried to read Cristhian Bahena Rivera his Miranda warnings from memory during the Aug. 20, 2018, interrogation.
She said she didn’t realize until much later that she had inadvertently failed to warn him that his statements could be used against him in court.
After several more hours of questioning, Rivera led police officers to a cornfield where they discovered Tibbetts’ body underneath a stack of leaves and stalks. Romero says Rivera provided substantial information about what happened to Tibbetts at that point.
Rivera’s lawyers have asked a judge to suppress Rivera’s alleged confession, in part due to the incomplete Miranda warning.
Police believe the body of University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts would have eventually been discovered, even if the suspect in her killing hadn’t led police there.
Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation agent Trent Vileta testified Wednesday at a hearing to determine if incriminating statements made by Cristhian Bahena Rivera can be used at his murder trial.
Rivera’s defense argues that evidence from a police interview that began on Aug. 20, 2018, should be suppressed because he had not been read his legal rights.
Prosecutors concede that’s true but argue that Tibbetts’ body would have been discovered anyway and therefore the comments should be admissible. Vileta says farmers would have spotted Tibbetts’ fluorescent running shoes when harvesting the field where she was dumped.
Judge Joel Yates is considering the issue.