Attorneys representing Cristhian Bahena Rivera, the man accused of killing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts, have been granted their request for a postponement of his trial, which had been scheduled to begin Feb. 4.
District Judge Joel Yates ruled Wednesday that proceedings should be delayed until the Iowa Supreme Court has a chance to review the defense claim that Rivera’s constitutional rights were violated.
“We are encouraged that the court granted the stay and are hopeful that the Supreme Court will examine these very important constitutional issues at this point,” defense attorney Chad Frese said after the judge’s decision, according to the Des Moines Register. “These issues are necessary not only to this case but to be resolved in many other cases going forward.”
Prosecutors had argued there was no need to delay the trial.
Yates had ruled Dec. 23 that most of the evidence collected in the case could be used during the trial, but the defense has argued that most of the evidence should be withheld.
“The state chooses not to specifically respond to the characterizations of the evidence made by the defense as it relates to DNA mixtures in the trunk of the Malibu," Assistant Attorney General Scott Brown wrote in the state's resistance, according to the Register. "Suffice it to say that the state disagrees with those characterizations in the defense motion."
The defense claims that part of Rivera’s Miranda rights were violated during his arrest and that he was led to believe he would receive leniency if he confessed. They also claim that Rivera’s vehicle was searched without his consent, the Register reported.
Rivera’s lawyers, Chad and Jennifer Frese, also claim that some evidence was not promptly revealed to them, including a recovered pocketknife.
Iowa prosecutor Scott Brown told Fox News “nothing was withheld.”
The Freses also argued that Rivera was unfamiliar with the U.S. justice system, and would likely have contacted the Mexican consulate before issuing statements to investigators had he been aware of his rights, according to the Register.
Tibbetts was 20 years old when she went missing in July 2018 while jogging in Brooklyn, Iowa. Rivera is accused of killing Tibbetts and dumping her body in an Iowa cornfield after he allegedly followed her.
Police say Tibbetts noticed that Rivera was trailing her and warned she would call police and also tried to fend off Rivera, but she was murdered. Authorities say Tibbetts died from multiple sharp force wounds to her body, which was found the next month.
Fox News’ Matt Finn contributed to this story.