May 28 (UPI) — An Iowa jury on Friday found Mexican national Cristhian Bahena Rivera guilty of first-degree murder in the 2018 slaying of college student Mollie Tibbetts.
The jury delivered its verdict after less than 8 hours of deliberations, which began Thursday afternoon.
Tibbetts, 20, disappeared while running near her home in Brooklyn, Iowa.
Investigators found the University of Iowa student’s body more than a month later in a cornfield. An autopsy determined she died from multiple sharp-force injuries.
Prosecutors said Bahena Rivera, 26, led police to Tibbetts’ body, but said two masked, armed men forced him to drive them and Tibbetts to the rural area, where they killed her. Investigators found Tibbetts’ blood in the trunk of Bahena Rivera’s vehicle.
Prosecutors said Bahena Rivera killed Tibbetts because she rejected his romantic advances. Defense attorneys, instead, suggested Tibbetts’ boyfriend, Dalton Jack, was really to blame for her murder.
Bahena Rivera faces life in prison without the possibility of parole at his July 15 sentencing hearing.