Farmworker Convicted of Fatally Stabbing Iowa College Student

Mr. Bahena Rivera’s account of a home invasion was the same one he had told his defense lawyers since August 2018, one of those lawyers, Chad Frese, said. But in a news conference after the verdict, Mr. Bahena Rivera’s other lawyer, Jennifer Frese, seemed to acknowledge that Mr. Bahena Rivera’s account of an armed home invasion might have sounded far-fetched to the jury.

“I mean, if we were going to make something up, we would have came up with something better than that,” she said. Mr. Frese said, however, that it was not a difficult choice to put Mr. Bahena Rivera on the stand. “We had to get something up there and we thought the jury needed to hear directly from him,” he said.

Mr. Frese acknowledged it had been an “extraordinarily difficult” case for the defense team.

“I mean, we had a situation where our client gave a statement, and he had her DNA in the trunk and he led them to the body — that’s all pretty incriminating evidence,” he said at the news conference.

Mr. Bahena Rivera’s lawyers said they planned to appeal the verdict.

“We can tell you that, getting to know Cristhian Bahena, we are very surprised that he would be the kind of person that would commit a crime like this,” Mr. Frese said. “He is nothing but a soft-spoken, respectful, kind person.”

Scott Brown, who prosecuted the case, said at a news conference after the verdict that he had barely slept during the trial, as he worried about the outcome. But the trial, he said, was “not about us” but about finding justice for Ms. Tibbetts and her family.

“Even though we would never have the ability to bring Mollie back, we hope, moving forward, that they know the person that did this to her is going to be held fully accountable,” he said.

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