An Iowa judge ordered Cristhian Rivera, the 24-year-old illegal
immigrant accused of murdering Mollie Tibbetts, held on $5
million cash-only bond Wednesday -- with Rivera's first court
appearance coming just minutes after Tibbetts' family members
broke their silence about their broken hearts.
Rivera was mostly stoic and looked straight ahead in the
courtroom. He wore headphones and used an interpreter when the
judge spoke, only answering "Yes" when asked if he understood
Later, given another chance to speak, Rivera declined.
Rivera's lawyer, Allan Richards, filed a motion for a private
hearing, after an earlier defense motion for a gag order was
rejected. Richards argued the case had already become too
Cristhean Rivera, 24, is accused of murdering Mollie Tibbetts.
"The government has weighed in at the highest levels," Rivera's
If convicted of murdering the Iowa University sophomore, Rivera
faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.
"Christhian is a young man who has been working a number of
years for a respectable business in this community," Richards
said before bail was set. "No criminal record. we urge in court
to be fair."
A preliminary hearing in the case was set for Aug. 31 at 2 p.m.
Less than a half hour before Rivera walked into court, Tibbetts'
family members issued their first statement since Mollie's body
was found in an Iowa cornfield.
"Our hearts are broken," the statement said. “On behalf of
Mollie’s entire family, we thank all of those from around the
world who have sent their thoughts and prayers for our girl."
The statement continued: "We know that many of you will join us
as we continue to carry Mollie in our hearts forever. At this
time, our family asks that we be allowed the time to process our
devastating loss and share our grief in private. Again, thank
you for the outpouring of love and support that has been shared
in Mollie’s name. We remain forever grateful.”