June 20, 2021

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CNN, AP, Daily Beast headlines refer to illegal immigrant convicted in Mollie Tibbetts murder as ‘farm worker’ – Fox News

3 min read

The media appeared to have downplayed the migrant status of the murderer who was convicted in the brutal 2018 killing of 20-year-old college student Mollie Tibbetts. 

Cristhian Bahena Rivera was found guilty of first-degree murder on Friday after a two-week trial in Davenport, Iowa, in a case that drew national attention because of the suspect’s immigration status. 

However, media outlets are burying the fact that Rivera was in the country illegally when he murdered Tibbetts. 

MOLLIE TIBBETTS MURDER TRIAL: JURY FINDS CRISTHIAN BAHENA RIVERA GUILTY

“Farm worker found guilty of killing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts,” CNN wrote in its headline.

CNN’s report didn’t mention that the convicted murderer was an “undocumented immigrant” from Mexico until the fifth paragraph. 

The AP similarly ran the headline, “Farm laborer convicted in 2018 stabbing death of Iowa runner.” 

“The verdict came after a two-week trial at the Scott County Courthouse in Davenport, in a case that fueled public anger against illegal immigration and concerns about random violence against women,” the AP reported in the fourth paragraph. 

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The report concluded by taking a swipe at Republicans, including former President Trump, for pointing to Tibbett’s murder in the immigration debate, writing “Then-President Donald Trump, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and other Republicans had cited the vicious crime ahead of the 2018 midterm elections to call for harsher policies to deter illegal immigration. But their efforts eventually stopped after Tibbetts’ parents said the slaying should not be used to advance a political agenda that Tibbetts would have opposed.”

The Daily Beast also headlined “Iowa Farmworker Found Guilty of Murdering Mollie Tibbetts” and buried the mention that he entered the U.S. illegally to the sixth paragraph. 

The New York Times, meanwhile, put out a tweet that read, “Cristhian Bahena Rivera, a 26-year-old farmworker, was found guilty of first-degree murder on Friday in the killing of Mollie Tibbetts, a University of Iowa student who had vanished while jogging in 2018.”

The Times’ report later mentioned in the fourth paragraph of its report that he was an “undocumented” immigrant.

Bahena Rivera, who came to the U.S. illegally from Mexico as a teenager, will be sentenced to 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.

Defense attorneys Chad and Jennifer Frese said they plan to appeal the jury’s decision on their client’s behalf. 

During closing arguments, prosecutors urged the jury to convict Bahena Rivera, 26, for the death of the University of Iowa student, citing “overwhelming evidence” that tied him to the killing.

The defense rested its case Wednesday after Bahena Rivera testified that two men killed Tibbetts and forced him to transport her body in his car. 

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Prosecutor Scott Brown called Bahena Rivera’s testimony “a figment of his imagination.” He argued that Bahena Rivera drove past Tibbetts as she was running on July 18, 2018 in Brooklyn, Iowa and made advances towards her. 

When she rebuffed him, he got angry, Brown said. 

“The way he reacts with that anger is to stab this young woman to death and to dump her body in a cornfield,” he told the jury. 

Fox News’ Louis Casiano and Stephanie Pagones contributed to this report.

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