Tibbetts trial juror says case was 'very emotional,' feels confident with guilty verdict

Mollie Tibbetts murder trial juror says the case was ‘very emotional’

Juror Robert Reed told Fox News the panel was confident in its decision, noting that the charged nature of the case didn’t play a role in the outcome.

An Iowa man who served on the jury that convicted the killer of Mollie Tibbetts on Friday told Fox News the case was “very emotional” but that he was confident they made the right decision. 

Robert Reed, a Davenport resident, said he and the 11 other jurors took just over seven hours to convict Cristhian Bahena Rivera of first-degree murder. The case made national headlines because of Bahena Rivera’s undocumented status. 

“What we really had to do is put all of our emotions to the side,” Reed said. “It wasn’t about our own personal beliefs. We had to look at the evidence.

“I feel very confident with our decisions,” he added. “I think the other jurors are very confident.”

Bahena Rivera, a farm worker who came to the U.S. illegally from Mexico as a teenager, faces life in prison without the possibility of parole, which is a mandatory sentence upon conviction. He will be held without bond pending a July 15 sentencing hearing.

Prosecutors said he spotted Tibbetts, a University of Iowa student, as she was jogging in Brooklyn, Iowa on July 18, 2018. He tried to make advances toward her and got angry when she rebuffed him. He admitted to police after the slaying that he “blacked out” after becoming angry. 

He said he later realized her body was in the trunk of his car and buried her in a cornfield. The trial took a turn this week when Bahena Rivera took the stand and said two armed men kidnapped him and forced him to participate in the killing. He said they threatened his family in an effort to silence him. 

Prior to his testimony, he had not said anything about being kidnapped or the two men he claimed killed Tibbetts. Prosecutors called the testimony a “figment of his imagination.”

“That was interesting to me,” Reed said. “I don’t know if anyone has really heard that story until then.”

He said Bahena Rivera didn’t show any emotion throughout the trial aside from when the mother of his daughter testified.

“I don’t hold that against him,” Reed said.

Iris Monarrez Gamboa told the jury that he had never been violent toward her or their child. 

Defense attorneys said they plan to appeal the verdict. Bahena Rivera faces up to life in prison.

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