In a courtroom in Moscow, Idaho, Bryan Kohberger, the suspect accused of fatally stabbing four college students, stood silently on Monday as a judge entered not guilty pleas for all murder charges against him.
Latah County District Judge John Judge tentatively set the trial to begin on October 2nd.
During the arraignment, when the judge asked Kohberger to enter a plea, defense attorney Anne Taylor stood up and declined on behalf of her client, stating, “Your honor, we will be standing silent.” This led the judge to enter not guilty pleas on Kohberger’s behalf.
In the brief 15-minute hearing, Judge went through each count and the potential prison sentences before confirming Kohberger’s understanding. Kohberger responded with a “yes” each time.
Prosecutors now have 60 days to decide whether they will seek the death penalty in the trial, which is expected to last six weeks.
Wearing an orange prisoner jumpsuit, Kohberger listened as the court read the five counts against him, including one for burglary and four for first-degree murder. The case and subsequent manhunt had captured national attention late last year.
Recently unsealed indictments formally connected the 28-year-old Kohberger to the slayings near the University of Idaho on November 13th.
According to court documents, Kohberger allegedly unlawfully entered a home in Moscow, Idaho, and “unlawfully, deliberately, with premeditation and malice aforethought, killed and murdered” Maddie Mogen, 21; Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20.
Several family members of the victims attended the hearing, including Mogen’s mother and stepfather and Goncalves’ parents, sister, and aunt. Kristi Goncalves, the mother of one of the victims, embraced Mogen’s stepfather, Scott Laramie, before the judge took the bench.
Kohberger, a doctoral student of criminology at Washington State University, was apprehended on December 30th at his family’s home in Pennsylvania.
Neither the police nor the prosecutors have publicly disclosed any possible motives for the shocking crimes that shook the college town on the Idaho-Washington border.
Investigators connected Kohberger to the crime scene through cellphone signals, security camera footage, a witness in the house, and a tan leather knife sheath, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in January. The knife accessory, which had Kohberger family DNA on it, was found near Mogen’s body.
Authorities said they obtained DNA evidence from the garbage collected outside the Kohberger family’s Pennsylvania home, which was a high-probability match with the father of the person who left the knife sheath behind in Moscow.
According to court documents, Kohberger’s roommate, Dylan Mortensen, reported hearing crying in the home that early morning and saw a figure dressed in black clothing and a mask walking towards her. Mortensen described the individual as male, approximately 5’10” or taller, not heavily built but athletically built, with bushy eyebrows. She locked herself in her room after witnessing the person walk towards the back sliding glass door.