A The criminology graduate student accused of the November slayings of four University of Idaho students agreed Tuesday to be extradited from Pennsylvania, where he was arrested last week, to face charges in Idaho.
Bryan Koberger, a 28-year-old doctoral student at Washington State University, a short distance from the crime scene across the state line, will be transported to Idaho within 10 days.
University of Idaho students and nearby residents lived in fear for weeks as authorities seemed stunned by the mysterious and brutal stabbings on November 13. murders and the analysis of DNA evidence at the crime scene.
Still looking for a murder weapon
Investigators have said they are still looking for a murder weapon and a motive for the killings. More details about the case are expected to be released after Kohberger arrives in Idaho and an affidavit is unsealed.
But lawyers, law enforcement officers and others involved in the case will not be allowed to discuss the affidavit or other court documents after an Idaho trial judge late Tuesday issued a so-called “gag order” that prohibits officials from speaking publicly on many issues. the case out of court.
Judges sometimes issue the orders when they fear that pretrial publicity might prevent the defendant from getting a fair trial.
Wearing red jumpsuit and chained hands in front of him, Kohberger showed little emotion during Tuesday’s brief hearing in a Pennsylvania court in which he acknowledged facing four counts of first-degree murder and one count of robbery.
Kohberger, who was arrested by state police at his parents’ home in eastern Pennsylvania last Friday, will remain in jail in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, pending extradition.
Kohberger’s parents and sisters sat in the front row of the courtroom gallery, behind the defense table. His mother and his sister Melissa broke down as he walked into the courtroom, sobbing quietly and hugging each other. A sheriff’s deputy brought them a box of tissues. Kohberger looked briefly at his family as they led him out of the courtroom.
Prosecutors in Latah County, Idaho, have said they believe Kohberger broke into the victims’ home near the college campus with the intent to commit murder.
The students were: Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho; Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Xana Kernodle, 20, of Post Falls, Idaho; and Ethan Chapin, 20, of Conway, Wash. They were close friends and members of the Greek university system.
Mogen, Goncalves and Kernodle lived in the three-story rental house with two other roommates. Kernodle and Chapin were dating and he had been visiting the house that night.
DNA evidence played a key role in identifying Kohberger as a suspect.
The murders have left the rural town of Moscow, Idaho, deeply shaken, and police have released few details about the investigation. For weeks, the Moscow Police Department faced heavy criticism for telling frightened residents that there was no great risk to the community, even though no suspect had been named.
University officials hired additional security to escort students around campus, but nearly half of the 11,500-strong student body temporarily left campus over the perceived safety of online classes.
Aspiring detectives tried to fill the void with their own theories online, some of them targeting friends and acquaintances of the slain students with hurtful and inaccurate accusations.
Monroe County’s top public defender said his client is eager to be exonerated. Kohberger should be presumed innocent and “not be tried in the court of public opinion,” public defender Jason LaBar said.
After Tuesday’s hearing, LaBar described Kohberger as “an ordinary guy” and said that after his extradition he would be represented by the top public defender in Kootenai County, Idaho.
Capt. Anthony Dahlinger of the Moscow Police Department in Idaho told The Associated Press on Saturday that authorities believe Kohberger was responsible for the four slayings at a rental home near campus.
“We think we have our guy,” Dahlinger said, adding that investigators obtained samples of Kohberger’s DNA directly from him after he was arrested.
Pennsylvania State Police Maj. Christopher Paris said Tuesday that Kohberger’s arrest warrant warranted a night arrest, which requires a higher standard of probable cause.
“We wanted to get into a time where we thought it would be the safest for everyone. The safest for everyone else in the house, the safest for Mr. Kohberger, and the safest for our people,” he said.
A tactical response team reviewed the home’s floor plans and broke several doors and windows as they entered, Paris said.
In her gag order, formally called a “non-disclosure order,” Latah County Magistrate Judge Megan Marshall prohibited the individuals involved in the case from discussing anything “that might reasonably interfere with a fair trial of this case.” “. That includes details about any evidence, the existence of any confessions or other statements given by the defendant, or the merits of the case, Marshall wrote in the order.
The gag order will last until a verdict is entered or modified by the court. However, the paper documents filed in the criminal case are still expected to be open to the public once Kohberger arrives in Idaho.
DNA evidence played a key role in identifying Kohberger as a suspect, and officials were able to match his DNA to genetic material recovered during the investigation, a law enforcement official said last week. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss details of the ongoing investigation.
In addition to the DNA evidence, authorities also learned that Kohberger owned a white Hyundai Elantra, said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Moscow police had already identified a white Hyundai Elantra seen near the crime scene and asked the public for help finding the white sedan. Suggestions poured in, and the Idaho researchers soon tried to narrow down a list of about 20,000 possible vehicles to find the right one.
Indiana State Police announced Tuesday that on December 15, a police officer pulled over a white Hyundai Elantra on Interstate 70 for following too closely. A body camera worn by the officer appeared to show Bryan Kohberger in the driver’s seat, police said. At the time, there was no information available to the police officer that would have identified Kohberger as a suspect in the Idaho murders, the agency said, and he was released with a verbal warning.
Kohberger had also been pulled over a few minutes earlier by a Hancock County Sheriff’s Department deputy for following too closely and received a verbal warning, the sheriff’s department said.
Federal and state investigators are reviewing Kohberger’s background, financial records and electronic communications as they work to build the case against him, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Investigators are also interviewing people who knew Kohberger, including those at Washington State University, the official said.
Kohberger’s relatives in Pennsylvania expressed sympathy for the families of the victims, but vowed to support him and promote “his presumption of innocence.”
Investigators have requested information on Kohberger from anyone who knows him, and Dahlinger said investigators received 400 calls to a tip line within the first hour of that request. He said they were “trying to build this picture now of him: who he is, his story, how we got to this event, why this event happened.”