Authorities still haven’t found the weapon used to stab Mollie Tibbetts to death more than a year after her murder, it was revealed in court Wednesday.
The 20-year-old University of Iowa student’s cellphone and FitBit have also not yet been recovered, Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Deputy Steve Kivi said in court, according to The Des Moines Register.
The acknowledgement of the missing items came during the first day of a hearing in Poweshiek County Court, where Judge Joel Yates heard arguments over whether evidence against accused killer Cristhian Bahena Rivera should be thrown out.
Defense attorneys for Rivera, a Mexican national living illegally in the US, have claimed investigators coerced him into giving an interview and failed to properly read him Miranda rights.
Prosecutors admitted in court documents last month that an officer “inadvertently” failed to tell Rivera that anything he said could be used against him when he was busted for murder around 11:30 p.m. on Aug. 20, 2018.
In court Wednesday, former Iowa City Police Officer Pamela Romero testified that she made an honest mistake when she didn’t read Rivera his complete rights, not realizing until later that she’d left that part out.
Romero, a native Spanish speaker, said she made an error, and wasn’t trying to keep the suspect talking without a lawyer.
Several hours of questioning later, Rivera led cops to a cornfield where they found Tibbetts’ body.
Following the gruesome discovery, Romero said she read Rivera his rights to him at around 5:50 a.m., and this time they were complete.
He provided “substantial information” about how Tibbetts was killed and left in the field, Romero said.
Prosecutors agree any statements Rivera made between the time frame of 11:30 p.m. and 5 a.m. — which led to the discovery of the body — shouldn’t be used as evidence in his trial.
But they say the body itself should be used as evidence, claiming it would have been discovered anyway, since investigators had already planned on searching that area.
Local farmers were anxious Tibbetts, who went missing July 18, 2018, would be found in their fields and were on the lookout.
Some used drones, which would have spotted Tibbetts’ fluorescent running shoes, testified Agent Trent Vileta of the Division of Criminal Investigation, which oversaw the massive search.
“Nobody wanted to be the one to find her,” Vileta said.
But defense attorneys cast doubt on the claim Tibbetts would have been found, noting the missing phone and FitBit.
Rivera’s lawyers also claim cops suggested to their client that he didn’t need a lawyer and questioned him for 11 hours even as he was, at times, dozing off.
Investigators testified Rivera agreed to be interviewed and was free to leave for the first six hours.
Then they discovered blood in the trunk of his vehicle and obtained an immigration detainer to keep him in custody. Rivera had given consent to the vehicle search, they said.
The blood turned out to match Tibbetts’.
The hearings are expected to continue Thursday. A judge will have weeks to decide how much of Rivera’s alleged confession will be used in the trial, scheduled for February.
With Post wires.
The post Slain Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts’ phone, Fitbit and ‘murder weapon’ still missing appeared first on New York Post.