Kohberger hints at alibi at time of Idaho student killings

Jul 25, 2023, 1:42 PM

Bryan Kohberger hearing...

Bryan Kohberger enters the courtroom for a hearing at the Latah County Courthouse in Moscow, Idaho, on June 27. (August Frank/Pool/Reuters)

(August Frank/Pool/Reuters)

(CNN) — Bryan Kohberger, the man accused of killing four University of Idaho students last fall, was not at the location where the crimes took place, his defense attorneys suggested Tuesday, though they have yet to provide evidence or details about his whereabouts.

Kohberger is charged with four counts of first-degree murder in the November 13 deaths of 21-year-olds Kaylee Goncalves and Madison Mogen; and 20-year-olds Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin, who were fatally stabbed in their off-campus home in Moscow. A not guilty plea has been entered on his behalf, and his trial is set for October.

“Evidence corroborating Mr. Kohberger being at a location other than the King Road address will be disclosed pursuant to discovery and evidentiary rules as well as statutory requirements,” attorney Anne Taylor wrote in a Tuesday court filing.

The document stops short of saying where Kohberger was at the time of the killings.

The killings and lengthy investigation rattled the community of Moscow, a city of 25,000 people that hadn’t recorded a murder since 2015. After seven weeks of little information and heightened anxieties, Kohberger, a graduate student from nearby Washington State University, was arrested across the country at his parents’ house in Pennsylvania.

He has been in police custody since then and is being held without bail. Prosecutors will seek the death penalty, according to court documents.

Tuesday’s filing was focused on Kohberger’s alibi.

“A defendant’s denial of the charges against him does not constitute an alibi, but as soon as he offers evidence that he was at some place other than where the crime of which he is charged was committed, he is raising the alibi defense,” the filing states.

“It is anticipated this evidence may be offered by way of cross-examination of witnesses produced by the State as well as calling expert witnesses,” the filing states.

Kohberger “stands firm” on his constitutional right to silence as well as to testify on his own behalf, his lawyers said.

Weapon not found

Latah County prosecutors and defense attorneys have sparred over whether DNA evidence found at the scene was planted there.

Investigators say DNA matching Kohberger’s was found on the sheath of a Ka-Bar knife believed to be the weapon used in the killings, which has not been recovered.

“What the State’s argument asks this Court and Mr. Kohberger to assume is that the DNA on the sheath was placed there by Mr. Kohberger, and not someone else during an investigation that spans hundreds of members of law enforcement and apparently at least one lab the State refuses to name,” Kohberger’s defense attorneys said in a June filing.

“lf Defendant wishes to explore the theory that his DNA was planted on the Ka-Bar knife sheath, he is free to do so,” the state responded in a subsequent court filing on July 14.

A 37-day stay of Kohberger’s speedy trial deadline was granted earlier this month, but Judge John Judge was clear the stay did not apply to other elements of the trial including Tuesday’s deadline to provide an alibi.

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Kohberger hints at alibi at time of Idaho student killings