CRIME

Judge enters not guilty plea for suspect in stabbing deaths of 4 University of Idaho students

May 22, 2023, 10:32 AM | Updated: 11:21 am

FILE - Bryan Kohberger, left, looks toward his attorney, public defender Anne Taylor, right, during...

FILE - Bryan Kohberger, left, looks toward his attorney, public defender Anne Taylor, right, during a hearing in Latah County District Court, Jan. 5, 2023, in Moscow, Idaho. A grand jury has indicted Kohberger on the charges in the University of Idaho slayings case. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, Pool, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, Pool, File)

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A judge entered a not guilty plea Monday for a man charged in the stabbing deaths of four University of Idaho students, setting the stage for a trial in which he could potentially face the death penalty.

The Nov. 13, 2022, killings stunned the rural community of Moscow, Idaho, and prompted many students to leave campus early, switching to remote learning for the remainder of the semester.

Bryan Kohberger, 28, was arrested late last year and charged with burglary and four counts of first-degree murder in connection with the slayings of Madison Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin at a rental home near the University of Idaho campus.

Kohberger refused to enter a plea in Latah County District Court, prompting the judge to make one on his behalf.

He was a graduate student studying criminology at nearby Washington State University at the time, but prosecutors have not released any information about how he may have chosen the victims or whether he had met any of them previously.

A timeline of the killings of four University of Idaho students

Police released few details about the investigation until after Kohberger was arrested at his parents’ home in eastern Pennsylvania early Dec. 30, 2022. Court documents detailed how police pieced together DNA evidence, cellphone data and surveillance video that they say links Kohberger to the slayings.

Investigators said traces of DNA found on a knife sheath inside the home where the students were killed matches Kohberger, and that a cellphone belonging to Kohberger was near the victims’ home on a dozen occasions prior to the killings. A white sedan allegedly matching one owned by Kohberger was caught on surveillance footage repeatedly cruising past the rental home around the time of the killings.

Kernodle, Chapin, Mogen and Goncalves were friends and members of the university’s Greek system, and the three women lived together in the rental home just across the street from campus. Chapin — Kernodle’s boyfriend — was there visiting on the night of the attack.

Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson now has 60 days to inform the court whether he will seek the death penalty in the case.

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Judge enters not guilty plea for suspect in stabbing deaths of 4 University of Idaho students