Thu. Jul 25th, 2024

A judge on Thursday laid out a plan for a June 2025 trial date for the man accused of murdering four University of Idaho students almost two years ago — a sign that after months of lawyers sparring over legal motions in the high-profile case, both the defendant and victims’ families are closer to having their day in court.

The tentative timeline set by Latah County District Judge John Judge came as the accused killer, Bryan Kohberger, 29, appeared at a hearing in which prosecutors agreed to a trial for next summer.

Anne Taylor, Kohberger’s public defender, said she was also “working toward” that time and said it was “reasonable.” Judge said he expects the trial could last about three months, including sentencing if Kohberger is convicted, and asked the lawyers to meet various deadlines.

“I just don’t want to be scrambling a month before the trial,” Judge said.

Given the amount of attention and speculation over the case, the judge must still decide whether to move the trial out of Latah County, which may delay its start. Judge is expected to decide that in August.

Kohberger faces four counts of first-degree murder and burglary after prosecutors say he broke into an off-campus apartment house early Nov. 13, 2022, near the Moscow, Idaho, university and fatally stabbed roommates Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Madison Mogen, 21; and Xana Kernodle, 20. Kernodle’s boyfriend, Ethan Chapin, 20, was also killed inside the home with a large fixed-blade knife that investigators said was not found at the scene.

Judge in May 2023 entered a not guilty plea on Kohberger’s behalf.

The Goncalves family, who has been outspoken about the pace of the legal process, welcomed the agreement for a trial date.

“We are hopeful the trial stays in Latah County so as not to disrupt the scheduling order and we are praying for no more delays,” they said in a statement. “We moved a little closer to justice today for Kaylee, Maddie, Xana and Ethan.”

An initial trial date was tentatively set for October 2023, as prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty if Kohberger is convicted.

But the proceedings were put on hold when he waived his right to a speedy trial and his defense team sought to have the initial grand jury indictment dismissed. The judge denied the request, ruling that “Kohberger has failed to successfully challenge the indictment on grounds of juror bias, lack of sufficient admissible evidence, or prosecutorial misconduct.”

Kohberger has been held without bail in the Latah County Jail.

A possible motive for the killings — in a college town that hadn’t seen a homicide, much less four, in several years — remains murky.

A gag order was issued in the case last year barring lawyers, police and other officials from making statements, but the public has gotten a glimpse of Kohberger’s alibi defense in court filings and in recent motions hearings.

His defense has said that Kohberger, who was a graduate student living in Washington state just across the Idaho border, often went on late-night drives, but that cellphone tower data would show that he had been doing so miles away at the time the four University of Idaho students were killed.

Prosecutors are expected to rely on DNA evidence, cellphone use and surveillance videos to connect Kohberger to the crime.

In an affidavit following his arrest weeks after the killings, they said he was linked to the scene through male DNA discovered on a knife sheath left at the victims’ apartment house. The affidavit also said that security video showed a white Hyundai Elantra spotted near the scene, and that Kohberger drove the same one.

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#Judge #plans #June #trial #manaccused #murderingfour #University #Idaho #students

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