The accused murderer of Mollie Tibbetts made his first appearance in an Iowa courtroom on Wednesday. Cristhian Rivera, who is 24-years old, is an undocumented immigrant, according to investigators. It has now stirred up a political debate, even here in Fresno, where Tibbets’ father is from.
“Mister River, you have been charged with murder in the first degree,” stated the Judge to Rivera.
Rivera didn’t say much, and an interpreter helped him break down the court proceedings. He is accused of killing the 20-year old college student. Tibbetts had been missing since last month.
The Judge continued to say, “And if not a U.S. Citizen, a plea of guilty can result in additional immigration consequences up to, and including, deportation…”
Iowa State investigators said Rivera is not a legal U.S. Citizen. It’s fueled a heated political debate about immigration.
Guillermo Moreno is conservative radio host in Fresno. He said, “He should not have been here, and had he not been here, then Molly would still be alive today.”
Moreno blames the Democratic Party for not supporting President Donald Trump in his efforts to strengthen border security.
Trump commented on Tuesday, “You heard about [today] with the illegal alien, coming in very sadly from Mexico, and you saw what happened to that incredible, beautiful young woman. Should have never happened.”
But immigration advocate Felipe Grimaldo, who works for Valley Forward in Fresno, said we need to focus on the crime that Rivera is accused of – not on his immigration status.
“Regardless of the immigrants’ status, ethnicity, or who the person was, it has nothing to do with the fact that we’re losing people over the hands of criminals,” ended Grimaldo.
Immigration, Customs and Enforcement, otherwise known as ICE, has also filed a detainer to make sure rivera is not released.
Rivera is being held on a five million dollars bail.