The graduate student accused of fatally stabbing four University of Idaho students remains jailed without the possibility of bail and is set to face a judge in June for a preliminary hearing.
In a short hearing in Moscow, Idaho, on Thursday morning, suspect Bryan Kohberger waived his right to a speedy trial. He faces four first-degree murder charges in the deaths of Ethan Chapin, 20, Madison Mogen, 21, Kaylee Goncalves, 21, and Xana Kernodle, 20. The students were found stabbed to death in an off-campus home where most of them lived in Moscow, Idaho on Nov. 13.
Speaking directly to Kohberger, Latah County District Court Judge Megan Marshall asked if he understood what was happening during the hearing and whether he knowingly was waiving his rights.
“Yes,” Kohberger responded. He did not look around the courtroom as he entered and departed under guard, wearing orange jail clothing. He spoke only to answer Marshall’s questions, and has not yet entered a plea of guilty or not guilty.
- The defendant has not yet spoken publicly following his arrest.
- Police say DNA evidence ties him to the crime scene
- Investigators say cell phone tracking shows he repeatedly visited the area
Death penalty on the table
If convicted, Kohberger could face the death penalty, which is legal in Idaho. Investigators have not yet revealed a potential motive behind the killings, although the father of one of the victims said he believes Kohberger was stalking her. A surviving roommate said she saw a tall, thin masked man with bushy eyebrows inside the house after hearing noises coming from another bedroom.
Marshall set the preliminary hearing for five days starting June 26. A preliminary hearing is typically the first time evidence gathered by prosecutors is presented in court, and gives the judge an opportunity to decide whether there’s enough evidence to proceed to a trial.
In a routine filing, appointed public defender Anne Taylor also asked the judge to order prosecutors to turn over their evidence, which could include photo lineups, DNA tests, surveillance or any expert witnesses they plan to call during a trial.
Classes resume at University of Idaho following slayings
The hearing came a day after students at the University of Idaho returned to class for the spring semester amid a campus that’s relieved of an arrest but also still concerned for their safety. Kohberger, 28, was a doctoral student at Washington State University in Pullman, about 10 miles away from Moscow.
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Authorities say they used DNA samples and surveillance footage, cell phone tracking software, and tearing through Kohberger’s trash at his family’s home in Pennsylvania to identify him as the suspect, according to court documents released last week.
Investigators gained crucial information after police obtained a search warrant for Kohberger’s phone records on Dec. 23. They discovered the phone had been tracked near the students’ house at least 12 times in the six months before the attack, an affidavit said.
On Dec. 27, Pennsylvania police recovered trash from Kohberger’s family’s residence, and an Idaho state lab linked the DNA from the trash sample to the knife sheath found at the murder scene.
Marshall has previously issued a no-contact order for Kohberger with the two surviving roommates and the victims’ families.
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Gag order prevents police, attorneys from discussing case
Last week, Marshall issued a gag order preventing authorities, attorneys and other officials from “making extrajudicial comments, written or oral, concerning this case.”
Kohberger was taken into custody on Dec. 29 in his parents’ home in northeastern Pennsylvania, about 2,500 miles from where the stabbings occurred. He agreed to be extradited back to the state during an initial court appearance in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania last week.
Steven Goncalves, Kaylee’s father, has said he believes that Kohberger stalked his daughter and the other victims.