Plan to demolish house where 4 University of Idaho students were slain prompts objections
Jul 4, 2023, 8:41 PM
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Objections have been raised to demolishing the house where four University of Idaho students were killed last year, with members of three of the victims’ families signaling it should be preserved until after the trial of the man charged in the deaths.
Shanon Gray, an attorney for the family of Kaylee Goncalves, one of the stabbing victims, said the university is disregarding families’ requests that the home be left standing until after the trial of Bryan Kohberger, which is set to begin in October, the Idaho Statesman reported.
The bodies of Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin were found last Nov. 13 at the rental home across the street from the University of Idaho campus. Kohberger is charged with four counts of murder in connection with their deaths.
The owner of the property donated it to the school after the killings, and the university announced earlier this year that it was planning to demolish the home. A demolition date has not been set, but university spokesperson Jodi Walker said the school wants the house gone before the start of the fall semester.
Gray said in an email to the newspaper that the university asked for the families’ opinions “and then proceeded to ignore those opinions and pursue their own self-interests. The home itself has enormous evidentiary value as well as being the largest, and one of the most important, pieces of evidence in the case.”
Members of the Mogen and Kernodle families also oppose demolishing the property until after trial, the attorney said. Gray was unsure what position the Chapin family had. Members of the Chapin, Mogen and Kernodle families did not respond to requests for comment from the newspaper.
Gray also represents the Goncalves and Mogen families in tort claims filed against the university, the city of Moscow and Idaho State Police. That step preserves the families’ rights to sue the government entities if they choose in connection with the deaths of their children.
Walker said university officials have been in “regular communication” with the victims’ families since taking ownership of the house.
University attorney Kent Nelson, in correspondence with Gray, said neither the prosecution nor the defense has objected to the property being demolished. He told Gray that the university needed a “cogent argument,” citing relevant case law or rules for it to deviate from its demolition plans. Nelson requested a response by June 23.
Gray said he received the correspondence from Nelson on June 22 and did not say if he met the deadline for a response.