The trial of alleged Idaho murder Bryan Kohberger could be hundreds of miles away over fears the jury will be so appalled by the massacre that they will try him fairly.
Kohberger, 28, is expected to appear at the Latah County Courthouse in Moscow on June 26 to plead for the killing of four University of Idaho students who were stabbed to death on November 13 in an off-campus home in Moscow.
If Kohberger pleads not guilty, a trial date will be set. But many questions remain unanswered – including where the process will take place.
The killings shocked the rural Idaho community, and either the prosecution or the defense could file a motion to change location. Some options might include Lewiston, which is 30 miles south of Moscow, Coeur d’Alene in Kootenai County, about 85 miles north, or Boise, which is about 300 miles south of Moscow.
Kohberger faces four counts of first-degree murder in the murders of Madison Mogen, 21, Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum; Xana Kernodle, 20, and Ethan Chapin, 20.
The trial of alleged Idaho murder Bryan Kohberger could be hundreds of miles away over fears the jury will be so appalled by the massacre that they will try him fairly
Former Idaho Attorney General and Lt. gov. David Leroy said it’s possible the trial could be moved to other Idaho cities, including Lewiston, just 30 miles south of Moscow, Coeur d’Alene in Kootenai County, about 85 miles north, or about Boise 300 miles south
(LR) Dylan Mortensen, Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen (on Kaylee’s shoulders), Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle and Bethany Funke
The case received widespread publicity, and in January Latah County Judge Megan Marshall issued a sweeping gag order barring attorneys, law enforcement and others associated with the case from speaking or writing about it.
In the gag order, Marshall said the language restriction was necessary to protect Kohberger’s right to a fair trial.
“More speeches does not mean a less fair trial; The speech in question must be of a nature likely to prejudice a jury. And even when the public can inspire prejudice, the answer isn’t always to stifle speech,” wrote coalition attorney Wendy Olson.
“Other remedies such as passage of time, change of venue, voir dire, jury orders and jury seizure may remove any blemish in the jury without violating the right to speak.”
If the trial goes ahead, it would take place after court appearances on June 26 and after another preliminary hearing.
Any party could request a change of venue, but district attorney Lindsey Blake told The Idaho Statesman that the decision to move a trial rests with the judge and usually comes at the request of the defense, not the prosecution.
The main reason for the relocation is the effect of pretrial publicity on potential jurors, Blake said.
“Each case is decided on an individual basis,” Blake said. “But most of the time they look at pre-trial publicity. They think they could get a more impartial jury.’
Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson told the statesman he believed an unbiased jury could be found in Moscow.
“I don’t see why we shouldn’t do this unless there is irresponsible information dissemination,” Thompson said in December.
At the time of his interview, few details about the investigation had been made public.
When a trial date is set and a request for a change of venue is granted, the question arises as to where the trial will take place.
Former Idaho Attorney General and Lt. gov. David Leroy told the statesman there are other areas in Idaho where the trial could be moved, including Lewiston, just 30 miles south of Moscow, Coeur d’Alene in Kootenai County, about 85 miles north, or Boise, about 300 miles south.
Three of the victims were from Kootenai County.
Kohberger was arrested by a SWAT team at his parents’ home in Pennsylvania on December 30 when they were raiding his Washington State University apartment
Kohberger reportedly followed Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle (left together), and Kaylee Goncalves (right) on Instagram. They were killed along with Ethan Chapin in November
Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin were found dead by his best friend, who checked their pulses before calling 911 on November 13
Leroy said that every defendant in a criminal case is entitled to a trial before a jury of peers.
“These colleagues should approach any jury service with an open mind and without pre-formed opinions,” Leroy said. “The jury must decide whether someone is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt based solely on evidence presented in the courtroom.”
Leroy said the difference between Moscow residents being chosen to serve on a jury versus residents from the rest of the state is their proximity to the crimes. He added that with so much attention on the case, finding a Latah County jury without prior opinions could be difficult.
Kohberger was arrested by a SWAT team at his parents’ home in Pennsylvania on December 30 when they were raiding his Washington State University apartment.
He has previously indicated that he believes he will be “exonerated” as his family is unable to pay for private representation for him.
A new search warrant released Jan. 17 shows police found multiple strands of hair, including what they suspect to be animal hair, a black glove, a computer tower and an unnamed item with a collection of “dark red stains.”
They also hauled away a pillow with a “reddish/brown stain” and the top and bottom of a mattress cover with “multiple stains.”
Investigators, who searched the property back in December, also took receipts from Walmart and two receipts from Marshall, as well as the contents of his vacuum cleaner.
Authorities first sealed the search warrant for the murder suspect’s Washington home – arguing that releasing the details could end the investigation “prematurely”.
Kohberger is said to have followed the students in the weeks leading up to the murders. Pictured is the home where the murders took place, just over 8 miles from where he worked as a graduate student and teaching assistant
Kaylee’s dog Murphy was spared during the murders – officers found him alone in her room
Court records show eight strands of hair were recovered from the home, as well as a “possible” pet hair.
During their search, they also recovered a Fire TV stick. All items are now stored at the Washington State University Police Department.
Authorities reportedly said they wanted to see if any hairs were “transferred” to Kohberger and then back to his home – including that of Kaylee Goncalves’ dog Murphy.
Murphy was found alive in Goncalves’ room by summoned investigators and has now been returned to her ex-boyfriend.
The motion also found that the house where the students were murdered contained a significant amount of blood from the victims — including “splatter and spilled blood.”
Investigators believe it is likely that the killer had traces of blood on his body or clothing and were hoping to find evidence in Kohberger’s apartment.
However, they did not describe the results of any of the tests in the documents and did not confirm whether any hair found matched the victims or Kaylee’s dog.
His offices at Washington State University were also searched, but nothing was seized by officers.
Best friends Kaylee Goncalves and Madison Mogen, both 21, were murdered on November 13 along with roommate Xana Kernodle and boyfriend Ethan Chapin, both 20
Ethan Chapin and Xana Kernodle were murdered on November 13th
First, the court ruled that the arrest warrant should be sealed until March 1, on the grounds that there would be a risk to “public safety” if it were released.
Authorities released the probable cause affidavit against Kohberger just before his first hearing in Moscow, Idaho, on Jan. 5.
It reveals how Kohberger turned off his phone on the night of the murders, allegedly to cover his tracks before the murder.
He is even said to have returned to the scene at 9am on November 13 – just hours after police believe he committed the quadruple murders.
The documents state that the criminal justice graduate has haunted the property at least 12 times.
Officials have not released the exact dates they believe he searched the three-story property, but confirmed he was killed just two minutes after exiting the area captured by the cell phone tower closest to the home in August was overcast was stopped.
A Latah County sheriff’s deputy pulled him over at 11:37 p.m. on Aug. 21 as part of a traffic stop — where he gave his number.
During the stop, recorded by the officer’s bodycam, Kohberger was driving his white Hyundai Elantra.
The papers also included details of how Kohberger’s DNA was found on a knife sheath near the bodies of Maddie Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves. Authorities are still looking for the murder weapon.
How the Idaho murder case that shocked the world unfolded
Sunday, November 13, 2022: Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin were stabbed to death at their home in Moscow, Idaho, in the early hours of this morning sometime between 3 and 4 a.m.
Earlier in the evening, Mogen and Goncalves were captured in a Twitch livestream near a food truck while waiting for an order of pasta carbonara.
A sorority shuttle drove the young women home at about 1:56 am.
Kernodle and her friend Chapin had returned from the Sigma Chi compound home about 11 minutes earlier.
Two other housemates who survived the attack went to bed around 1 a.m. and didn’t wake up until the next morning.
Goncalves called her ex-boyfriend Jack DuCoeur seven times between 2:26 and 2:44, her sister Alivea said. He was quickly cleared as a suspect.
A 911 call was placed at 11:58 a.m. that morning.
At 2 p.m., students were notified of the killings by the University of Idaho, and staff told them to “take shelter on the spot.”
Monday, November 14, 2022: Moscow Mayor Art Bettge said the killings were a “crime of passion,” only to later backtrack. He said this theory is one of several being considered.
Tuesday, November 15, 2022: Moscow police called the killings an “isolated, targeted attack,” adding that there was “no immediate threat to the community at large.”
But angry locals – as well as the families of the four victims – slammed what they described as conflicting testimonies from investigators.
Wednesday, November 16, 2022: Moscow PD leader James Fry announced that two housemates at home had survived.
He said there was no sign of a forced entry but refused to say who made the call and why it was made, an estimated eight hours later.
Fry angered locals by going back to an earlier claim that she was not a danger to the wider community. He warned them to “please remain vigilant.”
Thursday, November 17, 2022: The murders are officially ruled stabbing homicides by Latah County Coroner Cathy Mabbutt.
She said all four victims were likely attacked while they slept and each sustained multiple stab wounds.
Disturbingly, some victims were found to have defensive wounds – suggesting they had woken up while being attacked – but there were no signs of sexual assault.
Sunday November 20: exclusively reveals a local dog was skinned and filleted three weeks before the killings, sparking fears of a connection.
Cops later insisted that was not the case. They added that Goncalves’ dog was at the home at the time of the murders.
November 22, 2022: Police officers admitted Goncalves had been followed through a supermarket about a month before the killings, but say they have been unable to verify claims she had a stalker.
November 30, 2022: Kaylee Goncalves’ father Steve said his daughter and girlfriend Maddie Mogen were sleeping in the same bed when they were stabbed.
Latah County Prosecutor Bill Latah claimed one of the victims was “undoubtedly targeted.”
Hours later, the Moscow Police Department contradicted that claim, only to admit the next day that they considered the crime “targeted.”
Six people are being ruled out as suspects: a man seen near Goncalves and Mogen at the food truck; the driver who took her home; Goncalves ex-boyfriend; the surviving roommates and another student who had moved out of the property a few months earlier.
December 5, 2022: Goncalves’ father Steve criticized the police’s “absurd” approach to the case, claiming the Moscow Police Department was too quick to exonerate potential suspects and rule out links to other cases
December 7, 2022: Police officers make their first appeal to a white 2011-2013 Hyundai Elantra sighted at the scene around the time of the murders.
A white Hyundai Elantra was reportedly towed from the home of suspect Bryan Kohberger in Scranton, Pennsylvania on December 30 after his arrest.
December 12, 2022: Steve Goncalves reveals Kaylee had “huge open furrows” as a result of the fatal attack.
He branded cops “cowards” for not giving out more information and said his daughter’s wounds were more serious than Maddie’s.
December 18, 2022: New footage emerges showing Goncalves and Mogen walking through downtown hours before they were murdered while talking about a man named Adam.
The Goncalves family attorney later clarified that the Adam in question was a bartender.
December 27, 2022: Additional leaked footage shows Goncalves and Mogen at the Corner Club bar in Moscow just before returning home.
December 30, 2022: Police officers announce they have been arrested in connection with the Scranton, Pennsylvania killings.
The suspect is named as University of Washington criminology graduate student Bryan Christopher Kohberger.
Kohberger was caught at his home by SWAT teams and charged the same morning.