The former farmhand convicted of kidnapping and killing 20-year old University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts was sentenced to life in prison with no chance for parole by a judge on Monday.
Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 27, a Mexican national migrant worker, was given the maximum penalty by Judge Joel D. Yates, who told Rivera at the hearing “You, and you alone, forever changed the lives of those who loved Mollie Tibbetts. And for that, you and you alone will receive the following sentence,” according to NBC.
Rivera was reportedly silent and emotionless as the sentencing was delivered.
Tibbetts went missing after going for a jog on July 18, 2018 in Brooklyn, Iowa. After a month-long investigation, Rivera led authorities to an open cornfield where Tibbetts body was found stabbed between seven and 12 times in the chest, neck and skull, according to prosecutors.
Rivera had testified using a translator that two mysterious masked men men showed up in his trailer the day Tibbetts went missing and forced him to take part in the killings.
He was convicted of the murder on May 28.
Rivera was scheduled to be sentenced in June, however Judge Yates agreed to delay the sentencing in order to schedule a hearing on a motion for a new trial after defense lawyers accused prosecutors of failing to disclose a sex-trafficking investigation near where the 20-year-old disappeared, according to ABC News.
The shocking delay came a week after defense attorneys asked for a new trial, claiming witnesses independently told police a man bragged to them about raping and murdering the college student and framing Bahena Rivera, the network reported.
Judge Yates ultimately denied the defense’s request for a new trial.
“In reviewing the evidence and testimony provided at trial, the court finds the verdict was not contrary to the weight of the evidence,” Yates wrote.
The case became highly politicized after former President Donald Trump blamed the murder on weak immigration laws.