BY Richard Moorhead, The Western JournalFebruary 21, 2023
1 year ago

Bryan Kohberger Can Request to Move Trial from Latah County After Reality of What's Happening in Moscow, Idaho, Becomes Apparent

The 28-year-old man charged in the brutal murders of four Idaho college students could be eyeing one legal tactic as he prepares his defense.

Bryan Kohberger could ask to move the venue of his eventual trial away from Latah County, Idaho.

The tactic is often sought in criminal cases where the defense doesn't believe an impartial jury can be formed in the jurisdiction hosting a trial.

Kohberger's lawyers could argue that there's no chance a neutral jury could be paneled for a trial regarding the killings of the University of Idaho students at an off-campus residence in Moscow, Latah's county seat.

One Idaho prosecutor who isn't handling Kohberger's case described the circumstances in which a defendant's attorneys could seek to move a trial away from a jurisdiction to the Idaho Statesman.

"A lot of the time, they’re looking at pretrial publicity. They feel they could get a more impartial jury,” Fremont County Prosecuting Attorney Lindsey Blake said of some cases.

Latah County Prosecuting Attorney Bill Thompson -- speaking before a judge imposed a gag order on prosecutors and law enforcement regarding Kohberger's case -- argued against a change of jurisdiction in a December interview.

“I don’t see why we wouldn’t, as long as there’s not irresponsible dissemination of information,” Thompson said of forming an impartial Latah County jury, according to the Statesman.

Former Idaho Attorney General David Leroy told the Statesman that Kohberger's defense attorneys would likely assume that forming an impartial jury in Latah County would be difficult.

"Those peers are supposed to approach any jury service as unbiased and without opinions formed in advance of the case,” Leroy said of an impartial jury's obligations.

Kohberger is accused of killing Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Kernodle’s boyfriend, Ethan Chapin, 20, in a Nov. 13 home invasion. He is facing four counts of felony first-degree murder and a felony burglary charge.

Authorities investigated the case for months before arresting Kohberger across the country at his parents' house in Pennsylvania.

His attorneys have already opted for one legal move that could delay his eventual trial several months.

The defendant waived his right to a speedy trial in a January hearing, according to The New York Times.

The legal move was intended to give Kohberger's counsel more time to challenge the state's probable cause affidavit affecting his arrest.

This delay suggests his attorneys are planning a rigorous defense.

The former criminology Ph.D. student has maintained his innocence in the face of the charges, although he has not yet entered a formal plea in a courtroom.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

Written by: Richard Moorhead, The Western Journal

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