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Mollie Tibbetts’ accused killer pleads not guilty to murder charges

Cristhian Rivera, the suspect in the murder of Mollie Tibbetts.

Cristhian Rivera, the illegal immigrant accused of killing Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts, pleaded not guilty to murder charges at his Wednesday arraignment.

Rivera’s trial is set to begin 16 April of the following year.

Rivera, 24, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder on Aug. 21 after police search in a cornfield about 12 miles to the southeast of Brooklyn, discovered the body of Tibbetts, a 20-year-old University of Iowa student.

Tibbetts was last seen jogging in Brooklyn on July 18, and the desperate attempts to find her drew a lot of media attention.

The plaintiffs claim Rivera kidnapped Tibbetts, while out for an evening run, killed her and disposed of her body in the remote location.

Authorities announced last month the preliminary results of the autopsy from the state medical examiner’s office showed Tibbetts was the victim of a murder and died of “multiple sharp force injuries.”

A criminal complaint alleges Rivera well-known authorities during a lengthy interrogation, he says he drove his car to follow the Tibbetts’ jog, eventually got a foot to talk to her and then went behind her. Rivera told investigators he panicked after Tibbetts threatened to use her cell phone to call the police. He claims that he is a black-out at that time and later, as he was unloading Tibbetts’ bloody body in the trunk of a car, according to the complaint.

Mollie’s father, Rob Tibbetts, in a eulogy at her funeral in late August, thanked the volunteers and the officials of the law enforcement in the search for his daughter. He also thanked the media, which he credited with the generation of 400,000 tips about Mollie that the potential residence.

“Today we need to the page,” Tibbetts said. “We are at the end of a long agony, but we must put in the direction of the life — Mollie’s life. Because Mollie no one the victim.”

Mollie’s brother, Jake Tibbetts, described his older sister as someone who worked on the bringing together of people with differences.

“Have you seen how hard Mollie works in heaven above,” Jake said during the funeral.

President Trump, in an interview with “Fox & Friends,” described Tibbetts as a “nice girl” who was killed by a “terrible person who came from Mexico, illegally here.”

President @realDonaldTrump doubles down on his call for stricter immigration laws in the midst of the news that Mollie Tibbetts was allegedly killed by an illegal immigrant pic.twitter.com/daep1yNxGn

— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) August 23, 2018

Researchers have said Rivera came to the U.S. illegally from Mexico at some point between 4 and 7 years ago, and an immigration detainer was placed on him after his arrest.

In August, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, told Fox News, “a search of records by the USCIS revealed Rivera not DACA requests and were grants given.

“We have no data in our systems indicates he has a legal immigration status,” the agency added.

DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival, it was set during the Obama administration and some of the immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children to remain in the country.

A study of the Iowa court records also turned up no criminal history for Rivera, and it is unclear whether he has ever been subject to prior deportation proceedings.

Fox News’ Lucia I. Suarez Sang, Samuel Chamberlain, and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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