Judge: Challenge of Subpoena of Victim’s Bank Records Moot

Cristhian Bahena Rivera, left, talks to defense attorney Jennifer Frese, center, via an interpreter at the Poweshiek County (Iowa) Courthouse, Nov. 14, 2019. (Brian Powers/Des Moines Register via AP)
The Associated Press

Montezuma, Iowa – A judge declined to quash a subpoena seeking the bank records of a slain University of Iowa student and rejected prosecutors’ request to admonish the defense attorneys who sought them.

Prosecutors in the first-degree murder case against Cristhian Bahena Rivera made the motion, calling the subpoena by Behena Rivera’s lawyers for Mollie Tibbetts’ bank records a “fishing expedition.”

Prosecutors accused the defense attorneys of failing to notify prosecutors and the court – as required by law – of the subpoena until after it had already been served last month on Bankers Trust in Des Moines. Defense attorney Jennifer Frese said in a hearing last week that the lack of notification was due to a clerical error in her office and that the oversight was not malicious.

The judge ruled last week that the challenge was moot, as the subpoena had already been served and the bank provided no relevant information in the case, The Des Moines Register reported.

Tibbetts, 20, disappeared while out for a run in Brooklyn, Iowa, on July 18, 2018. Bahena Rivera, now 26, eventually led authorities to her body, officials have said. Authorities believe Rivera stalked Tibbetts and stabbed her to death when she rejected his advances.

Rivera’s trial is set to begin May 17.

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