THE families of four University of Idaho students are still awaiting justice over their murders, as Monday marks the one-year anniversary of when they were brutally stabbed while they slept.
Bryan Kohberger, the 28-year-old accused of killing the four students, has yet to stand trial for the massacre, however, experts are pointing to a key piece of evidence as a cause of the delay.Bryan Kohberger has yet to go to trial over the murder of four students last year[/caption] They were brutally stabbed to death while sleeping in their Moscow home[/caption] The families of the victims have been calling for justice for months[/caption]
On November 13, 2022, Kaylee Goncalves, 21, was stabbed to death in her Moscow home, along with her roommates Madison Mogen, 21, and Xana Kernodle, 20.
Xana’s boyfriend Ethan Chapin, 20, was also stabbed the same night at the home.
The families of the murdered students have been demanding justice for months, including calling for Kohberger to lose alleged pretrial privileges, such as appearing in court in a suit and without restraints.
The trial for Kohberger was initially set to start at the beginning of October, however, the suspect and his legal team waived his right to a speedy trial.
Experts have told The U.S. Sun that in a typical criminal case, it would be unusual for it to take at least a year for the suspect to stand trial.
However, this is not a typical case.
Bryce Powell, a criminal defense attorney based in Idaho, pointed to the fact that prosecutors are relying on and gathering DNA evidence.
“This case is not a normal case and involves a great deal, from what I understand, of DNA evidence not only trying to place the perpetrator at the scene but also DNA which may have been taken from the scene to locations that the perpetrator occupies,” Powell said.
He added that this forensic evidence is “all the more important” due to the unclear motives behind the killings.
“In most cases, murders are motivated by, you know, hatred, jealousy, or greed. However, this one’s a little bit different.”
Kevin McMunigal, a former federal prosecutor and law professor at Case Western University, affirmed the importance of the evidence in this case.
McMunigal cautioned that while it is hard to fully know what it could reveal before the trial, much of what has been talked about in the public sphere “seems very powerful.”
Court filings submitted by prosecutors earlier this year revealed the state is in possession of thousands of photos and documents as evidence.
Specifically, the prosecution has said they have more than 10,000 pages of reports, 10,200 photographs, 51 terabytes of video and audio material as well as over 9,000 tips, according to the filing viewed by KTVB.
McMunigal warned that while a jury will be required to make a decision beyond a reasonable doubt in Kohberger’s trial, the public might not be as tolerant.
Instead, he suggested they may be likely to make a snap judgment.
“I think once the public hears there’s DNA, they’re gonna think the guy did it and also I think the public doesn’t tend to use the beyond a reasonable doubt standard way a jury would be required to,” the former prosecutor said.
KEEPING MEDIA ATTENTION LOW
Another challenge of the upcoming trial is the level of media attention allowed in the courtroom, as both experts noted concerns about current and future news coverage impacting a jury’s decision.
In early November, Latah County District Court Judge John Judge said he would not be banning cameras in the courtroom, but emphasized the need for control.
“…I need to have more control over what the cameras are doing and what media, or people who are not media, are doing with the filming,” the judge said, according to Fox 13.
Previously, the Judge said he wanted the trial to fully take place in the courtroom, rather than “in the media or in the public.”
“I know I can only control so much, and that’s why I continue to urge people to be patient and have some dignity and some restraint,” he said.
McMunigal indicated that this move is largely an attempt to prevent the jury from being influenced by the public.
He warned that when a case has a lot of publicity, there is a risk of the jury feeling pressure from the public, particularly if they don’t agree with a potential death penalty sentence.
McMunigal and Powell both warned that it may take some time to find an impartial jury due to the already existing media attention.
Powell specifically pointed to the fact that Latah County is relatively small and rural, and many potential jurors may have already formed opinions about the case.
Still, he has hope in the system.
“I believe that if properly executed…they will be able to find a fair and impartial jury who will base their decision solely on the evidence presented in court,” Powell said.
DELAYED BUT SPEEDY
Once the trial for Kohberger begins, both Powell and McMunigal suspect it won’t take long for both sides to present their arguments.
McMunigal suggested that not only should it not take much time to interview witnesses on the stand, but the prosecution will be motivated to keep the trial short to keep the jury engaged.
“The longer the trial takes, the easier it is for the jury to get confused by things. So I would suspect the prosecutors will move along relatively quickly,” he said.
Powell estimated that the trial should take approximately four weeks to be completed.
As of Sunday, a trial date was still not set in the case against Kohberger.Experts have pointed to DNA evidence as one reason for the delayed trial[/caption] All four victims were students at the University of Idaho[/caption] A trial date has not been set in the case against Kohberger[/caption]