Bryan Kohberger files motion to dismiss Idaho murders charges – days after trial was delayed indefinitely

Bryan Kohberger waived his right to a speedy trial on Wednesday, less than two months before proceedings over the University of Idaho student slayings were scheduled to begin

Andrea Cavallier
Friday 25 August 2023 10:40 EDT

Bryan Kohberger’s defence team argues they don’t have all the DNA evidence

Attorneys for Idaho murders suspect Bryan Kohberger have filed a motion to dismiss the charges against him after his highly anticipated quadruple murder trial was delayed indefinitely.

Mr Kohberger waived his right to a speedy trial on Wednesday less than two months before proceedings over the University of Idaho student slayings were set to take place.

The 28-year-old is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one charge of felony burglary related to the November 2022 killings of Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Ethan Chapin and Xana Kernodle at their off-campus Moscow home.

On Thursday, Mr Kohberger’s defence team filed a motion to dismiss all the charges against him, “on grounds of a biased grand jury, inadmissible evidence, lack of sufficient evidence, and prosecutorial misconduct by withholding exculpatory evidence,” according to recent court documents.

The motion is just one of several Mr Kohberger plans to file, including a plan to strike the death penalty, which the prosecution is seeking.

Bryan Kohberger enters the courtroom for a hearing, on 18 August, at the Latah County Courthouse in Moscow, Idaho

Prosecutors announced earlier this year that they would be seeking the death penalty in the quadruple murder case. Due to a bill signed into law in March by the state’s Republican Governor Brad Little, which went into effect on 1 July, Mr Kohberger could face the firing squad if convicted of the murders.

Death row inmates are to be executed by firing squad only if the lethal injection is not available.

Mr Kohberger was due to stand trial on 2 October, but that date has been delayed.

Anne Taylor, the lead public defender, told the court on Wednesday that one of the significant factors that determined the decision was inadequate time for proper legal counsel ahead of the planned 2 October start.

Prior to officially approving the trial postponement, the judge confirmed with Mr Kohberger many times, ensuring he understood the rights he was forfeiting and his intent to proceed.

Mr Kohberger responded, “Absolutely.”

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

Mr Kohberger, enrolled as a PhD student in Washington State University’s criminal justice programme, was arrested in December in connection with the murders. He was subsequently extradited from their parents’ residence in Pennsylvania back to Idaho.

Law enforcement established Mr Kohberger’s connection to the case when DNA recovered from his parent’s home corresponded with DNA identified on a knife sheath discovered at the crime scene.

The sheath – for a military or Ka-Bar style knife – was found partly under Mogen’s body after she and Goncalves were found stabbed multiple times on Mogen’s bed on the third floor of the home. DNA on the button clasp of the sheath was then found to match that of the 28-year-old accused killer.

His defence claimed earlier this month that he was out on a solo drive on the night of the murders. Prosecutors have tied him to the murders, in part, through surveillance footage showing his white Hyundai Elantra travelling to and from the crime scene.

Mr Kohberger’s attorneys have sought to cast doubts on the strength of this DNA evidence, in particular the use of genetic genealogy.

Last week, Mr Kohberger’s defence asked prosecutors to share the lab results of three unidentified male DNA samples reportedly found at the crime scene. Prosecutors argued that they have provided everything and that they “can’t provide something that doesn’t exist”.

“There has to be some level of trust in discovery. You are all sworn attorneys,” Mr Judge said.

Mr Kohberger, enrolled as a PhD student in Washington State University’s criminal justice programme, was arrested in December in connection with the murders

Shortly after Mr Kohberger’s arrest in January, Goncalves family members voiced their support for the death penalty. The grieving relatives, along with all the parties involved in the high-profile case have since been banned from speaking to the media about the ongoing proceedings.

But on Wednesday, the Goncalves family shared their thoughts on their Facebook page: “Please pray for our family today. We are afraid he is going to waive his rights to a speedy trial. If he does, trial will not be starting on Oct 2nd and it is very likely that it won’t take place for years. We want to get this trial over. Just thinking it could be years absolutely kills me.”

The family later thanked the community for their support after learning that his trial would be delayed.

“I want to send a HUGE Thank you to EVERYONE that supports us. We TRULY have an ARMY OF LOVE standing right next to us. There are no words for what you all do for us on a daily basis. I wish I could meet each one or you in person and give you a hug and thank you . Things are going to get rough, please stick with us. We need The Goncalves Army OF LOVE every step of the way. We love you all! God bless!”

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