24.7 C
New York
Thursday, July 25, 2024

Lawyers for Idaho murders suspect Bryan Kohberger visit crime scene ahead of planned demolition

The defense team for theman accused of killing four University of Idaho students has been given access to the off-campus home where the deaths occurred so the lawyers can gather photos, measurements and other documentation before the house is demolished later this month.

Bryan Kohbergerhas been charged with four counts of murder in connection with the deaths at the rental house just a block from the university campus in Moscow, Idaho, last November. A judge entered a not-guilty plea on Kohberger’s behalf earlier this year. Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson has said he intends to seek the death penalty, but a trial date has not yet been set.

Kohberger’s defense team accessed the home on Thursday and was expected to do so again on Friday, the university said.

The home —where students Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle, Madison Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves were killed— was given to the university earlier this year, and university officials plan to begin demolition on Dec. 28. The university hopes that removing the house will reduce the impact the deaths have had on the many students who live nearby.

“It is the grim reminder of the heinous act that took place there,” C. Scott Green, the president of the University of Idaho, has said. “While we appreciate the emotional connection some family members of the victims may have to this house, it is time for its removal and to allow the collective healing of our community to continue.”

Kohberger was a graduate student of criminology at Washington State University, which is a short drive from the scene of the killings across the state border. He was arrested at his parents’ home in Pennsylvania, and the unusual details of the case have drawn widespread interest. Investigators have pieced together DNA evidence, cellphone data and surveillance video that they say links Kohberger to the slayings.

According to an affidavit, Kohberger’s cellphone pinged in the vicinity of the house 12 times prior to the murders. Steve Goncalves, Kaylee’s father,told “48 Hours”in September that before the gag order, one of the lead investigators told him they believe Kohberger had been scouting out the house.

“He had to know when people were coming, people were going,” Steve Goncalves said.

University officials are working with students to design a memorial garden that will be built on the property once the house is gone.

The “Vandal Healing Garden and Memorial” will include a permanent reminder of the four students who were killed, and will be a place for students and community members to reflect and remember loved ones they have lost. The name of the memorial refers to the nickname given the school’s sports teams, “The Vandals,” and its mascot, Joe Vandal.

“The sad reality is that we lose students each year to a variety of causes,” the university wrote on its website. “In the wake of loss, we turn to each other for support and healing.”

In October, the FBI gathered at the house to collect additional data that could be used to create visual aids for jurors when the case goes to trial. The judge in the case has issued a gag order, preventing the prosecution and defense attorneys and law enforcement officials from discussing the case.

The judge is also banning members of the media and the public fromusing camerasand audio recording devices in the courtroom, saying they jeopardize the defendant’s right to a fair trial. However, the court will operate a livestream, available on its YouTube channel.

Victim’s family opposes home’s demolition

Goncalves’s family has previously shared their opposition about demolishing the home before the trial, CBS affiliate KREM-TV reported. On Friday, the Goncalves family attorney, Shanon Gray, released the following statement, which was obtained by the station:

“Let us ask this: Isn’t it better to have the King Rd. House and not need it than need the house and not have it? That has been our question to the Prosecution and the University of Idaho for the entire time the demo of the King Road has been an issue. But why is it even up for discussion? This is one of the most horrific crimes in the history of Idaho and the University of Idaho wants to destroy one of the most critical pieces of evidence in the case – and it is also important to make note that there is now a demolition date before there is even a trial date set. This alone speaks volumes.

“It is obvious from the two recent visits to the house, by both the Prosecution and the Defense, that there is still evidentiary value in having the King Road house still standing. There may be additional discovery by either party that prompts one side or the other to go back to the scene of the crime. There has always been a dialogue about their 3-D imaging or they are building a model to replicate the home, etc…First and foremost, what a waste of state money and resources and secondly, nothing replaces the real thing. Jurors are notoriously unpredictable and they tend to make decisions on a variety of facts and circumstances. It would be foolish of us to try and foresee what they will want or need to make a just verdict in this case.

“The family has stressed tirelessly to the Prosecution and the University of Idaho the importance (evidentiary and emotionally) that the King Road house carries but nobody seems to care enough. It’s like screaming into a void. Nobody is listening and everyone tells you how sorry they are for the decision but the families’ opinion isn’t a priority. Victims’ families have a voice and should be heard and listened to!”

Related Articles

Latest Articles