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Mollie Tibbetts: Farm worker guilty of murdering Iowa student

image copyrightReuters

image captionMs Tibbetts was a student at the University of Iowa

A farm worker has been found guilty of the murder of University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts.

The 20-year-old had gone out running near her home in July 2018 when she was abducted and killed by Cristhian Bahena Rivera, a court ruled on Friday.

One month later Rivera led police to her body, which was hidden in a corn field in Brooklyn, Iowa.

He is due to be sentenced in July. First-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

image copyrightIowa Police Handout

image captionCristhian Bahena Rivera will be sentenced on 15 July

Rivera told police in August 2018 that he had followed Ms Tibbetts when she was out for a run, got angry with her when she threatened to call 911, and then “blacked out”.

He later said he had regained consciousness and found her bleeding in his vehicle’s boot. He then buried her in the corn field, prosecutors told the court.

However on Wednesday Rivera gave a different story, saying two masked men had kidnapped him and forced him to take part in the killing of Ms Tibbetts.

Prosecutors dismissed this version, saying it was inconsistent with the evidence.

image copyrightGetty Images

image captionA missing poster for Mollie Tibbetts in Brooklyn, Iowa shortly after her disappearance in 2018

Jurors in Davenport, Iowa took seven hours over two days to deliberate, before returning with a guilty verdict.

Ms Tibbetts’ disappearance sparked a nationwide discussion about the dangers women face when out running.

The case then became particularly high profile shortly after Rivera’s arrest, when former President Donald Trump blamed US immigration laws for Ms Tibbetts’ death. Rivera, 26, is a Mexican undocumented migrant.

This prompted Ms Tibbetts’ family to plead with politicians not to use her death to “advance a cause she vehemently opposed”.

“Do not appropriate Mollie’s soul in advancing views she believed were profoundly racist,” her father Rob Tibbetts wrote in the Des Moines Register.

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