Bryan Kohberger, the man accused of the horrific stabbing deaths of four University of Idaho students in November, is facing the death sentence from the prosecution. About a month after Kohberger entered a not guilty plea, a prosecutor in Latah County announced on Monday that he intended to seek the death penalty for him.
When asked how he pled, Kohberger reportedly just stared ahead and remained silent, causing the court to enter the not guilty plea on his behalf.
Kohberger, a 28-year-old former graduate student at the University of Washington, is accused of killing four students from Idaho: Kaylee Goncalves, 21, Madison Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Ethan Chapin, 20.
The deaths were “especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel,” according to the prosecution, and Kohberger “exhibited utter disregard for human life.”
Idaho law stipulates that prosecutors had 60 days from the date of Kohberger’s May 22 indictment to file a request for the death penalty. As was customary in situations like this, News Nation reported earlier this month that prosecutors asked the victims’ families for their opinions before proceeding, with some of them publicly endorsing the idea.
According to reports, the families of Goncalves and Mogen were in favour of Kohberger receiving the death penalty, but Kernodle’s mother was against it.
“There is no one more deserving than the Defendant in this case. We continue to pray for all the victims families and appreciate all the support we have received,” Goncalves’ family said in a statement on Monday, thanking prosecutors for seeking the death penalty.
No DNA from any of the victims was discovered in Kohberger’s home or vehicle, according to defence attorneys for Kohberger, who also assert that “Mr. Kohberger has no connection to the victims.”
Additionally, Kohberger’s legal team submitted motions asking the Latah County District Court to direct the prosecution to provide additional evidence, such as DNA samples obtained from the investigation of the crime scene, searches of Kohberger’s phone and digital footprint, and the surveillance footage that was used to identify him.
These motions will be discussed at a hearing on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.
After the students were killed in their home, Kohberger avoided police suspicion for a few weeks before being apprehended in December at his parents’ house. He may have visited the neighbourhood around the house before and after that day, according to data from his cell phone, and he also seems to have messaged one of the victims on Instagram frequently before the deaths.
The Idaho killings, and most notably Kohberger, have aroused intense cultural interest. As a result, destructive, unfounded conspiracy theories regarding the victims’ surviving roommates as well as the predictable, odd thirst for Kohberger in some insane internet corners have emerged.
Since Kohberger refused to admit guilt and perhaps enter into a plea agreement to avoid the death penalty, experts have been speculating for months that the death penalty may be on the table for him. The trial is scheduled to begin on October 2 and is anticipated to last six weeks.