Bryan Kohberger suffers two big losses in Idaho murders hearing

The 28-year-old criminology PhD student is accused of slaughtering four University of Idaho students at their Moscow home on 13 November

Andrea Cavallier
Thursday 26 October 2023 19:25 EDT
Bryan Kohberger, suspect in Idaho murders, seen on body cam

An Idaho judge has denied a motion filed by Bryan Kohberger’s defence team to drop all charges against him.

The 28-year-old criminology PhD student who is accused of slaughtering four University of Idaho students at their Moscow home on 13 November returned to court for the crucial hearing on Thursday.

Earlier this year, Mr Kohberger’s attorneys filed the motion to dismiss the murder charges against him, citing a biased grand jury, inadmissible evidence and prosecutorial misconduct.

Judge John Judge said that while he appreciated the defence’s argument which he called “creative,” he quickly ruled that the grand jury’s indictment would stand.

“I appreciate the argument. I think it’s really creative and I appreciate the journey back through history,” the Judge said.

The 28-year-old criminology PhD student is accused of slaughtering four University of Idaho students at their Moscow home on 13 November

“I mean, what it comes down to for me is that I am constrained by what I believe is settled law in Idaho. I may be wrong, but this is certainly an issue that you would have to bring up with a higher court, like the Idaho Supreme Court, and I look forward to getting that.”

Before denying the motion, the judge made a decision that was not expected today.

He announced that he would allow cameras in the courtroom for now, but added that he will “take more control” of them. He also asked people to have restraint and dignity when covering the case.

The families of two Idaho murders victims Kaylee Goncalves, 21, and Xana Kernodle, 20, previously called for cameras to document Mr Kohberger’s trial, but both the defence and the prosecution have been against cameras in the courtroom.

On Thursday morning, the family posted on their Facebook page: “Court today! Please pray that things are decided in our favor. I can barely breathe. We have been waiting for this day since Sept 20th.”

A group of media outlets has also pushed back on the defence’s request motion, asking the judge to allow cameras to remain in the courtroom for his future hearings and the trial.

Ethan Chapin, 20, Madison Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, were killed on 13 November

Mr Kohberger was linked to the murders that rocked the town of Moscow through DNA evidence, cellphone data, an eyewitness account and his white Hyundai Elantra.

His attorneys have previously tried to argue that the DNA may have been planted and that the state has not handed all the evidence for the defence to review.

At the hearing on Thursday, Mr Kohberger’s defence argued the grand jury was given the wrong instructions – but Judge Judge said with a chuckle, that it is the same instruction given to grand juries for 100 years.

Attorney Jay Logsdon attempted to pick apart the precedent on what grand juries need for an indictment and that the standard of proof should include more than just probable cause, KXLY reporter Jordan Smith tweeted from the courtroom.

Mr Logsdon said he believes that the standard for an indictment should be elevated to “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The prosecution then argued the grand jury indictment against Kohberger should not be thrown out, stating: “There is nothing to see here. The Idaho Supreme Court has ruled on this issue.”

Mr Kohberger, 28, is charged with four counts of murder and other charges in connection with the deaths of Ethan Chapin, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Kaylee Goncalves. He has denied any involvement.

Mr Kohberger’s trial had been due to start on 2 October but has now been delayed indefinitely after he bruptly waived his right to a speedy trial.

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