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News / Northwest

Judge could soon set trial date for man charged in killings of 4 University of Idaho students

By Associated Press
Published: June 16, 2024, 12:01pm

BOISE, Idaho — A judge could soon decide on a trial date for a man charged in the deaths of four University of Idaho students who were killed more than a year and a half ago.

Bryan Kohberger was arrested roughly six weeks after the bodies of Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle, Madison Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves were found at a rental home near the Moscow campus Nov. 13, 2022. The students were stabbed, and investigators said they were able to link Kohberger — then a graduate student at nearby Washington State University — to the crime using DNA found on a knife sheath at the scene, surveillance videos and cellphone data.

A judge entered a not guilty plea on Kohberger’s behalf in a May 2023 hearing, and for the past several months Kohberger’s defense attorneys and Latah County prosecutors have been wrangling over the evidence and other data gathered throughout the investigation.

So far, 2nd District Judge John Judge has not set a trial date, noting that the case is particularly complicated in part because prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty if there is a conviction.

But that could change later this month. On Thursday, Judge scheduled a June 27 hearing to discuss the schedule for the rest of the case, including dates for the trial as well as for a possible sentencing.

A sweeping gag order has prevented Kohberger, attorneys on both sides, law enforcement officials and others involved in the case from commenting.

Earlier this month Judge said investigators working for Kohberger’s defense team would be added to a list of attorneys and defense experts who are allowed to review sealed DNA records that law enforcement used to narrow the the pool of potential suspects. The DNA was used for investigative genetic genealogy, in which material found at a crime scene is run through public genealogical databases to find a suspect or a suspect’s relatives.

In his June 7 order, Judge also said the defense team is not allowed to contact any relative who shows up in the records and who was not already known to them without advance permission from the court.

Prosecutor Bill Thompson had argued previously that the DNA records were not relevant because they were not used to secure any warrants and would not be presented at trial. But Judge disagreed, saying last year that the defense team had shown that they needed to review at least some of the records as they prepared their case.

Kohberger’s attorneys are also asking for a change of venue. The judge has yet to rule on that request.

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