Cristhian Bahena Rivera, the 24-year-old man accused of killing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts earlier this year, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday and had his trial set for next April by a judge.
USA Today reports that Iowa District Court Judge Joel Yates scheduled Bahena Rivera's trial for April 16, 2019, after the defendant waived his right to a trial within 90 days.
Lawyers for Bahena Rivera say their client, who listened to a translation of the proceedings through headphones, is "anxious to get this going." The attorneys would not say whether they would seek to move Bahena Rivera's case out of Poweshiek County, where the case gained national attention after remarks from President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Hackers are making big money MORE and other Republicans.
"We will analyze that as the evidence comes in and time goes on, but this has got a lot of publicity," said Chad Frese, one of Bahena Rivera's lawyers, according to the newspaper. "That’s certainly a consideration."
Trump seized on the case after Tibbetts's body was discovered in August, highlighting the story at a West Virginia rally as evidence of violent crime caused by undocumented immigrants that his administration was working to stop. Lawyers for Bahena Rivera and representatives for the Department of Homeland Security have disputed whether or not Bahena Rivera was in the country legally.
"You heard about today with the illegal alien coming in, very sadly, from Mexico, and you saw what happened to that incredible, beautiful young woman. Should’ve never happened," Trump said in August.
"We’ve had a huge impact but the laws are so bad," he continued. "The immigration laws are such a disgrace. We’re getting them changed, but we have to get more Republicans."
Frese and other attorneys declined to comment to USA Today on what defense strategy their client will take, but have suggested that he does not recall the incident and blocked it out of his memory due to mental instability.