An illegal immigrant charged in the murder of Mollie Tibbetts, a University of Iowa student found dead in August, requested his trial to be moved to a more diverse county in the state so his jury pool has more minority representation.
Cristhian Bahena Rivera’s attorneys filed the motion Friday, arguing that existing tensions and opinions in Poweshiek County — which is the area where the crime occurred, Tibbetts grew up and Rivera lived and worked at a dairy farm — will make it hard to have a “fair and impartial trial,” the Des Moines Register reported. The attorneys asked the court to select a county that has more of a minority representation for the jury pool.
"Without venue where a minority population is substantially represented, [Rivera] cannot be fairly tried and any jury pool chosen will have to be stricken," the motion reads.
The trial is set to begin on Sept. 3, Des Moines Register reported.
Rivera, 24, pleaded not guilty to murder charges in September, about a month after he was arrested and Tibbetts’ body was located in a cornfield about 12 miles southeast of Brooklyn. The 20-year-old college student vanished on July 18 while going for a jog in her hometown.
Tibbetts’ parents have been vocal in speaking out against linking his daughter's death to the illegal immigration issue.
In September, Mollie’s father, Rob Tibbetts, wrote an op-ed for the Des Moines Register that his daughter would have “vehemently opposed” anti-immigration views and asked politicians to not use her death to “promote various political agendas.”
Her mother, Laura Calderwood, also took in the teenage son of Mexican immigrants who worked with Rivera prior to his arrest.
Fox News' Kathleen Joyce contributed to this report.