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Judge to rule on evidence for trail of man accused of murdering UI student

MONTEZUMA — A two-day hearing to decide if some evidence could be suppressed in Cristhian Bahena Rivera’s murder trial concluded Thursday afternoon in Poweshiek County.

Rivera’s defense team wanted to put in evidence an affidavit by Rivera describing what happened when law enforcement questioned him in August 2018 about the disappearance of Mollie Tibbetts. Attorneys for the State said the affidavit is the same as testimony and they should be able to cross-examine Rivera. Judge Joel Yates agreed.

“We do not intend to subject our client to cross examination,” defense attorney Jennifer Frese said and she withdrew the affidavit.

Two expert witnesses testified for the defense Thursday. One was a Michigan State University associate professor of psychology who has done research on sleep deprivation. The other, Brian Leslie, is an interrogation expert who studied video of Rivera’s interview with law enforcement.

“He appeared tired, sleeping, fast asleep, unable to wake up,” Leslie said, “and I believe there were 60 instances of that during the seven videos.”

Judge Joel Yates says he’s taking the matter under advisement and will make a ruling as soon as possible.



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