Idaho Murder Suspect ‘Stands Silent’ During Arraignment, Judge Enters Not Guilty Plea
A judge in the Idaho Murders case has entered not guilty pleas on behalf of suspect Bryan Kohberger in the stabbing deaths of four University of Idaho college students. When the judge asked Kohberger’s attorney whether he was prepared to plead to the charges, the attorney said she and Kohberger would be “standing silent.” This prompted the judge to enter “not guilty” pleas on Kohberger’s behalf. Earlier in the brief hearing on Monday, Kohberger spoke loudly and clearly in a microphone when confirming to the judge that he understood his rights, the charges he faced, and the maximum penalties involved.
Last week, Kohberger was indicted by a grand jury on four counts of first-degree murder and one count of felony burglary for illegally entering a house with the intention of murdering people. He could face a maximum penalty of life in prison — or a death sentence.
Kohberger, 28, a former Washington State University graduate student in criminology, is accused of murdering Kaylee Goncalves, 21, Madison Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Ethan Chapin, 20, in their off-campus apartment during the early hours of Nov. 13, 2022. He was arrested on December 30 after a six-week investigation and charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of felony burglary.
Following Kohberger’s extradition from Pennsylvania to Idaho, a local judge issued a gag order, limiting the amount of information attorneys and involved officials can share with the media — which has done little to curb the intense public interest in the case. In a filing on May 11, Kohberger’s attorneys said he planned to present expert testimony on the “damaging effects” of “intense” media coverage should the judge order a hearing to reconsider the gag order. On May 16, the judge upheld the gag order.
Goncalves, Mogen, Kernodle, and Chapin were found dead on November 13 after police were called to their off-campus home following a report of an unconscious person. While police responded quickly, no murder weapon was found, and it took six weeks to name and arrest Kohberger as the suspect. During the investigation, police were especially tight-lipped about case updates, creating an information vacuum that fueled wild online speculation about the suspect and their potential motives.
According to an affidavit, Kohberger was connected to the crime after allegedly leaving behind DNA evidence on a knife sheath found at the scene. A roommate, identified as D.M. in the affidavit, reported seeing a figure around 5’10” with bushy eyebrows “clad in black clothing and a mask” in the house the morning of the murders. Police linked Kohberger to a car of interest seen around the house at the time of the murders, confirmed his presence near the home using cell phone data, and matched his DNA using trash from his home police recovered with a search warrant.
Prosecutors have yet to release any motive or possible connection between Kohberger and the students, but reports have trickled out of his possible interactions. In January, People cited an anonymous investigator saying that Kohberger had persistently DM’ed one of the victims around a month before the attacks.
The prosecution has not said whether they plan on seeking the death penalty but have 60 days from the time of Kohberger’s plea to decide. If the death penalty is taken off of the table, Kohberger could still face life in prison if convicted.
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“These murders have shaken our community and no arrest will ever bring back these young students. However we do believe justice will be found through the criminal process,” Moscow Police Chief James Fry said following Kohberger’s arrest. “Be assured the work is not done. This is just getting started.”
A trial date has been set for Oct. 2. It is expected to last four to six weeks.
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