Serving Franklin County, WA

Man accused in student slayings stands silent

Judge enters not guilty plea on Kohberger's behalf

MOSCOW, Idaho - The man accused of stabbing four University of Idaho students to death stood silent Monday, May 22, during his arraignment.

Bryan Kohberger, 28, of Pullman, appeared before Latah County District Court Judge John Judge after following his indictment last week on four counts of first-degree murder and one count of felony burglary.

He is accused of stabbing to death Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Madison Morgen, 21; Ethan Chapin, 20; and Xana Kernodle, 20, on Nov. 13, 2022.

Kohberger's public defender, Anne Taylor, said the defendant was "standing silent" when asked to enter a plea. In Idaho, a "stand silent" plea is common, with a defendant not entering a plea, sometimes as a legal strategy and other times to give defendants and their attorneys additional time to consider ramifications of pleading guilty or not guilty.

As a result, Judge John Judge entered a plea on Kohberger's behalf.

"I'm going to enter not guilty pleas on each charge – counts one, two, three, four and five," the judge said.

The indictment follows a months-long investigation and Kohberger's Dec. 30 arrest at his parents' house in Chestnuthill Township, Penn.

Kohberger grew up in Pennsylvania, graduated from Pleasant Valley High School and DeSales University in Center Valley, Penn. He moved last year to Pullman, where he was a Washington State University graduate student in criminology.

Records show investigators used DNA found on a knife sheath at the crime scene, cell phone records and other information to link Kohberger to the slayings, although they have not said how he know the victims or why they were allegedly targeted.

Goncalves, Mogen, and Kernodle lived together in a six-bedroom home off campus with two other housemates who were not targeted, records show. Chapin was dating Kernodle and visiting for the night when the four were slain in the early morning hours.

If convicted, Kohberger could face the death penalty or several counts of life in prison without the possibility of parole, in addition to fines.

Prosecuting Attorney Bill Thompson and his team now have 60 days to inform the court whether they will seek the death penalty.

A tentative trial date was scheduled for Oct. 2 as Taylor further requested a 6-week-long trial, which Judge John granted.

The capacity crowd spilled into additional rooms in the courthouse, where the proceedings were being broadcast.

 

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