MONTEZUMA, Iowa — Cristhian Bahena Rivera was sentenced Monday to life in prison without the possibility of parole, three months after the undocumented farm worker pleaded guilty to the 2018 slaying of University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts.
Rivera, 27, received the maximum penalty allowed under the law, NBC News reported.
Tibbetts disappeared while jogging near her home in Brooklyn, Iowa, on July 18, 2018, sparking a monthlong search that ended when Rivera, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, led investigators to a rural cornfield where they found the 20-year-old’s body with fatal stab wounds.
In a victim impact statement read aloud by a victim-witness coordinator, Tibbetts’ mother, Laura Calderwood, wrote that her words were intended to “give a voice to our daughter,” while also pondering the legacy Rivera has left for his own daughter, Paulina, KWWL reported.
“I do hope one day Paulina has the opportunity to become a mother, but how will she ever explain to her children who their grandfather is? This is the legacy you left behind for your only child Mr. Rivera. I don’t know whose situation is worse,” Calderwood wrote.
In addition to the life sentence, Judge Joel Yates also imposed a $150,000 restitution payment for Tibbetts’ family, KWWL reported.
“You and you alone forever changed the lives of those who loved Mollie Tibbetts,” Yates told Rivera during the sentencing.
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