The Hispanic man arrested and charged for the murder of Mollie Tibbetts now says he wants a jury filled mostly with Hispanics.
Attorneys for Cristhian Bahena Rivera filed a motion to change the venue for the trial to an area that is majority Hispanic so that the jury pool will be mostly Hispanic, according to the Des Moines Register.
According to Rivera’s attorney the change would allow a “a fair and impartial trial cannot be preserved with a jury selected from that county.”
As the Register reported:
Poweshiek County’s connections to the case are plentiful: It’s where Rivera worked and lived, where 20-year-old Tibbetts grew up, where she went missing while jogging in her hometown of Brooklyn in July, and where her body was discovered in a cornfield after more than a month-long search that drew national attention.
Months later, emotions and opinions surrounding Tibbett’s death “do not appear to have cooled,” Rivera’s attorneys wrote.
Rivera’s attorney cited local press coverage of the trial as an example of why the area has been poisoned for Rivera.
The attorney also tried to claim that racism is affecting the trial:
Rivera’s attorneys said they spoke with potential witnesses — many of them Latino — who expressed fear and apprehension about testifying or cooperating in the investigation should the trial remain in Poweshiek County.
“These individuals fear reprisals from locals who hold strong opinions concerning Latinos following [Rivera] being charged,” wrote the attorneys, who said they worry it will be difficult to find witnesses if the case remains in the county where Rivera lived and worked.
The attorneys also claimed that jurors fear that the government may deport them if they join the trial.
Rivera’s attorney did not mention that only actual citizens can serve on a jury in the first place, of course. They are just trying to raise fake fears.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.