The 28-year-old former grad student accused of killing four University of Idaho students in November 2022 entered a plea of not guilty on Monday to murder and burglary charges.
It was the first time in six months that the public, including the victims’ families, saw Bryan Kohberger since his last appearance at the Latah County Courthouse. On Monday, Kohberger refused to say his plea, prompting the judge to enter a not guilty plea on his behalf, The Associated Press reported.
Kohberger is accused of fatally stabbing Madison Mogen, 21; Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Kernodle’s boyfriend, 20-year-old Ethan Chapin, at the women’s off-campus rental house. Prosecutors have so far not revealed any information about a possible motive, and the killings rocked the small college town and prompted intense speculation on social media.
According to the judge, Kohberger could face life in prison or the death penalty on the murder charges.
Reporters in the courtroom said the families of Mogen and Goncalves were there watching the proceedings. Chapin’s family had previously said they would not attend, according to a reporter for King 5 News.
A trial date has been set for Oct. 2. The defense said they expect the trial to last four to six weeks.
John Judge, the new judge assigned to the case, read all five charges against Kohberger aloud in the courtroom, specifying the names of the victims while some family members cried, according to reporters in the courtroom.
“Dateline” reported Friday that according to an unnamed source with “inside knowledge of the investigation,” detectives found evidence that Kohberger had purchased a Ka-Bar knife and sheath on Amazon several months before the stabbings. Police had earlier said they found Kohberger’s DNA on a knife sheath discovered on a bed next to one of the victims.
Two additional hearings were scheduled to follow the arraignment. The first concerned a media coalition’s challenge to the sweeping gag order imposed in January that barred attorneys, police and family members, among others, from speaking publicly about the case. The state Supreme Court had previously rejected the request, saying the news organizations should have first made the request to the judge who issued the gag order.
“The family would like to thank everyone for continuing to follow this case and keep the memories of Kaylee, Maddie, Xana and Ethan alive,” the Goncalves family said in statement their attorney Shanon Gray shared with HuffPost. “They are what is important not the Defendant. We are thankful that the Latah County District Attorneys Office finally took the case to a [grand jury] and came back with an indictment. At the same time we are disappointed that the judicial process has not been more efficient in addressing the Gag order. This is just the beginning of a long journey for all the families and we are thankful for your continued support and coverage.”
The second hearing concerned Kohberger’s request for discovery, or access to all of the evidence compiled in the case.
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