The lawyer for the man charged with abducting and murdering Mollie Tibbetts said the suspect is not an illegal immigrant, contradicting what authorities said Tuesday, according to the Des Moines Register.
Cristhian Bahena Rivera led police to Tibbetts body on Tuesday, admitting to having an altercation with her, blacking out, then finding her in his trunk and dumping the body in a cornfield.
Rivera's attorney, Allen Richards, said Rivera was working legally in rural Iowa, and took exception with President Donald Trump's use of the situation as an example of poor immigration laws.
"Sad and sorry Trump has weighed in on this matter in national media, which will poison the entire possible pool of jury members," Richards wrote in a request for a gag order in the case. The request was denied.
Legal or not?
The Des Moines Register reports that, for the past four to seven years, Rivera worked on Yarrabee Farms, located near Brooklyn, Iowa.
Yarrabee Farms is owned by Eric and Dane Lang. The Langs said that they follow all employment law, and that Rivera passed the government's E-Verify background check system.
"Yarrabee Farms follows all laws related to verifying employees are legal to work in the United States, and we regularly seek outside counsel to ensure we stay up-to-date on employment law matters," a statement from the farm read. "We keep records on all employees and have shared that information with authorities."
The Des Moines Register found that government archives do not list Yarrabee Farms as an E-Verify participant, and the farm later retracted its statement and admitted it did not use the system.
Authorities stand by the original characterization of Rivera as "undocumented," saying all the information they have available to them points to that conclusion.
“What we based everything off of as far as saying he is an illegal alien is we worked with Homeland Security Investigations and they have him as an illegal alien,” said Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Assistant Director Mitch Mortvedt. “DCI doesn’t work immigration stuff so anytime this stuff comes up we defer to them.”