Mollie Tibbetts murder suspect makes first appearance, Tibbetts family releases statement



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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 appearance coming just a few minutes after the Tibbetts’ family members broke the silence about their broken hearts.

Rivera was especially stoic and looked straight ahead in the courtroom. He wore headphones and used an interpreter when the judge spoke only to answer “Yes” to the question whether he understood the proceedings.

Later, you will still get a 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 was too politicized.

Cristhean Rivera, 24, is accused of murdering Mollie Tibbetts.

“The government has weighted on the highest level,” Rivera’s lawyer said.

If convicted for the murder of the Iowa University sophomore, Rivera faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.

“Christhian is a young man who for a number of years a respectable business in this community,” Richards said bail was set. “No criminal record. we advocate in the court, to be honest.”

A preliminary hearing in the case was set for Aug. 31 in 2 hours

Less than a half hour for the Rivera walked into the court, Tibbetts’ family members gave their first statement since Mollie’s body was found in an Iowa cornfield.

“Our hearts are broken,” the statement said. “On the behalf of Mollie’s family, we thank all of the people from all over the world, that their thoughts and prayers for our little girl.”

The statement continues: “We know that many of you will join us as we continue to wear Mollie in our hearts for always. At this time, our family asks that we be allowed the time to our devastating loss and share our grief in private. Again, thank you for the outpouring of love and support that is shared in Mollie’s name. We remain forever grateful.”

Fox News’ Melissa Chrise and Travis Fedschun contributed to this report.

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