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Defense attorneys motion for new trial in Mollie Tibbetts case

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Montezuma, Iowa (KTTC) -- An Iowa judge hears argument for a new trial Tuesday, after new accusations came to light.

A jury found Cristhian Bahena Rivera guilty in the 2018 killing of college student Mollie Tibbets. This hearing has delayed his sentencing.

Bahena Rivera's defense team had requested Tuesday's hearing, saying there are new suspects in the case. They called one inmate, Arne Maki to the stand, who came forward back in May saying he had information about Tibbetts murder.

"Now are you getting any benefit out of telling this story," asked the prosocution.

"No I'm not," Maki responded. "I'd rather do the right thing."

Maki claims he spoke with another inmate, 21 year old Gavin Jones, who confessed to killing Tibbetts.

"He says 'you know the guy that's being charged for it right now?' I said 'No I don't.'," Maki said. "He's like 'we set him up,' he's like 'it was a sex trafficking case gone wrong and I stabbed her to death and put her in a tarp, me and my black friend that doesn't speak English that good, and set him up.' "

Maki says Jones had no emotion when he was talking about Tibbetts and didn't believe Jones until he heard more from the Bahena Rivera trial.

"Why would anyone tell me something so heinous like that," Maki said.

Maki claims Jones told him this information while they were both incarcerated in Poweshiek County, where Tibbetts was killed.

The defense also called the Iowa Special Agent in charge of the Tibbetts investigation to the stand, asking if Tibbetts could have been a victim of sex trafficking.

"It's possible," Trent Vileta said. "We had tips that she was eating ice cream in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and eating tacos in Denver, Colorado. So, it would not surprise me if there were tips that she was a victim of sex trafficking."

Three DNA samples were found in the trunk of Bahena Rivera's black Chevy Malibu, one of which belonged to Tibbetts.

The other two samples have yet to be identified but were determined to not belong to Bahena Rivera.

"You could request Gavin Jones DNA, is that right," Defense Attorney, Jennifer Frese said.

"Yes I could," Vileta answered. "You're right."

"You also could ask for James Lowe's DNA, is that right?" Frese asked.

"Yes," Vileta responded.

"In fact, you haven't requested anyone's DNA other than my clients," Frese said. "Isn't that correct?"

"Yes," Vileta responded.

The defense has rested for the day.

There is no word yet on whether or not a new trial will be granted.

The judge says a written ruling will come as soon as possible. So, it's unclear whether that will be Wednesday or later on this week.

Stay with KTTC on air and online for updates.

Sarah Gannon

Sarah Gannon

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