Attorneys for the illegal alien accused of killing University of Iowa co-ed Mollie Tibbetts last August, are requesting a change of venue, according to the Des Moines Register. The legal team for Cristhian Bahena Rivera filed a motion last Friday arguing that extant prejudice in Poweshiek County, where the victim’s body was found, makes it unlikely that their client will receive “a fair and impartial trial.”
So where do they want the trial to take place? To a “county with more minority representation in its jury pool.” The motion reads,
Without venue where a minority population is substantially represented, [Rivera] cannot be fairly tried and any jury pool chosen will have to be stricken.
As the article notes, it is not uncommon for a defendant in a high-profile case to request a change of venue, though it’s not a foregone conclusion that Rivera’s chances of acquittal are going to improve dramatically by weighting the jury with people who “look like him.” Plenty of Hispanics who emigrated legally to the country resent the fence jumpers — especially the ones charged with unspeakable crimes — which give Hispanics a bad name.
But apart from that, geography in this case dictates that finding a county that has a “substantial” minority, let alone Latino, population would be a tall order, even if the judge granted the motion.
I did a little digging, and I found that Poweshiek County is bordered on the east by Iowa County, to the south by Mahaska County, to the southeast by Keokuk County, to the west by Jasper County, and to the north by Tama County. Here is the population breakdown for each of those counties:
- Iowa County has a zero Latino population. Blacks, the largest represented minority, make up only 3.3% of the population.
- Mahaska County, at 94.3% white and 1.9% Latino, provides no solution either.
- Neither does Keokuk County, which is 97% white and has an even smaller Latino population, at 1.44%.
- Jasper County is nearly as problematic with only 1.85% of its residents being Latino.
- Finally, Tama County is 82.9% white, with 1,432 Latino residents, or 8.22% of the total.
Clearly, Tama County is the best option the geography lottery is going to afford Rivera and his legal team, which means they may have to trust the integrity of the American system of jurisprudence to isolate honest jurors capable of rendering an unbiased judgment.
Their client could do much worse.