UPCOMING: Murder trial date set for suspect Bryan Kohberger

UPCOMING: Murder trial date set for suspect Bryan Kohberger

The murder trial of Bryan Kohberger, the suspect in the November 2022 Moscow student murders, was scheduled Thursday for June 2025.

August Frank / Lewiston Tribune

The trial date for University of Idaho student homicide suspect Bryan Kohberger has been set. But where the trial may take place is still undecided.

Judge John Judge of Idaho’s 2nd Judicial District in Latah County scheduled Kohberger’s felony trial for next June and planned for a three-month trial. That term could take the trial into August 2025 and possibly into August.

“As I look at all of this, there’s going to be a lot of motions, a lot of hearings, a lot of work,” Judge said in court. “And I’ve tried to balance that, and I think it’s a pretty fair balance, and I hope it’s realistic.”

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The judge said he expected it would take two weeks to empanel a jury and eight weeks for the trial.

Kohberger, 29, faces four counts of first-degree murder in the November 2022 stabbing deaths of U of I students. The victims were seniors Kaylee Goncalves and Madison Mogen, both 21, junior Xana Kernodle and freshman Ethan Chapin, both 20 years old.

Sentencing, if Kohberger is convicted, could take up to two weeks, the judge said, including arguments for and against the execution. Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty for Kohberger.

Prosecutors and Kohberger’s public defense team offered no objection to the judge’s proposed term. The scheduled date met the indictment’s prior request for a summer trial to avoid conflicts with the local high school and the academic calendar of the U of I in Moscow, where the four victims attended college.

Anne Taylor, Kohberger’s lead public defender, called the trial schedule “reasonable” but noted that she has yet to present evidence on her efforts to move the trial out of Latah County because of concerns about local juror bias against her client They. The prosecutor’s office opposes moving the trial to another part of the state, and a hearing on the issue is scheduled for August 29.

Thursday’s hearing, which Kohberger attended wearing a navy suit and tie, lasted less than 15 minutes. Seated next to Taylor, he stood up at its conclusion, was led away by a bailiff and slipped out of sight on the court’s live web feed, wearing handcuffs around his ankles.

Kohberger is now sentenced to 18 months in prison and more

At the time of the murders, Kohberger was a student at Washington State University near Pullman, Washington. He was arrested about seven weeks after the December 2022 murders while visiting his parents in eastern Pennsylvania during winter break from school.

From left, Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin were killed in a November 2022 attack at an off-campus home on King Road in Moscow near the University of Idaho. CBS 48 hours

Kohberger has remained in the Latah County Jail pending trial — now 18 months and counting — since he arrived in Idaho in early January 2023 to answer the charges. The case’s costs to taxpayers in that time have already topped $3.6 million, the Idaho Statesman previously reported.

Kohberger was arraigned in May 2023 and remained silent when asked to plead to the charges, which include felony burglary. The judge entered a not guilty plea on Kohberger’s behalf and set a trial date for October 2023. As of Thursday, that original date had been pushed back indefinitely after Kohberger later waived his right to a speedy trial within six months after being sent to court.

“We’re about 13 months from arraignment, and I think at this point — this is my opinion — we’re getting to the point of diminishing returns,” Judge said Thursday. He then proposed June 2025 for a murder trial.

Kaylee Goncalves’ parents have been some of the biggest supporters of scheduling a trial date and have criticized the perceived slow pace of hearings up to this point.

“As long as the court continues to examine anything and everything at every hearing, the delay will never end,” the Goncalves family said in a statement in May. “The families of the victims want justice, but just as importantly, we want the case to move forward. Every hearing is painful to watch with an endless lack of organization and accountability.”

If Kohberger is convicted, the jury would have to reach a unanimous decision to sentence him to death, according to Idaho law.

This story was originally published June 27, 2024 10:37 am.

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Kevin Fixler is an investigative reporter for the Idaho Statesman. He previously covered local government, the environment and transportation at The Press Democrat in Santa Rosa, California, and the Summit Daily News in Breckenridge, Colorado. He holds degrees from the University of Denver and UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.
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