Idaho murder suspect Bryan Kohberger appears in court with no trial date determined

Bryan Kohberger, the suspect accused of murdering four University of Idaho students, appeared in court as attorneys discussed change of venue and a trial date, with no determinations made.

Mr Kohberger sat in a Latah County, Idaho courtroom on Wednesday next to his defence team, wearing a dark suit, light blue shirt and dark tie. He is accused of fatally stabbing Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin in November 2022.

The defence team argued that the trial should be moved to a venue outside of Latah County — where the brutal murders took place. His attorneys wrote that a “fair and impartial jury cannot be found in Latah County” due to the “extensive, inflammatory pretrial publicity,” the severity of the charges and the “salacious nature” of the alleged crimes. They added that the population is too small to “avoid bias in the community”.

Prosecutors previously wrote that the defence’s argument lacks information to support that a jury could “not fairly and impartially” decide the case, adding that “publicity is not a stand-alone reason” for a court to change the venue.

“How do you really know if there’s prejudice without seeing the jury? It’s really a catch 22,” said Judge John Judge.

The judge allowed more time before he decided on the change of venue. The next hearing is scheduled for 14 May at 1.30pm.

The lawyers also engaged in a back-and-forth over access to investigative genetic genealogy (IGG) materials.

Mr Kohberger’s attorney, Anne Taylor, previously asked the court to allow three criminal investigators to access the IGG materials, which the defence opposed because the investigators were unnamed.

In court on Wednesday, Ms Taylor said the investigators weren’t named “because of consistency,” as they have not been named on other protected materials, like those regarding medical information from the hospital, University of Idaho records, and police procedures. “We can name them if that is a sticking point,” she conceded.

Latah County deputy prosecutor Ashley Jennings said the state wanted the investigators to be named to maintain “control over any unauthorised dissemination.” Ms Jennings called the IGG material “highly sensitive information” to which she believed the defence didn’t need total access.

“We have to be especially careful about who’s going to have the access, what they’re going to do with it,” regarding the IGG information, the judge said.

“We have to have investigators on a death penalty case,” Ms Taylor said. “To meet our constitutional duties…we have to have investigators,” as they help understand what the IGG materials are and what they mean, she continued.

The judge questioned the IGG materials’ “relevance,” since the state said it had “no bearing” on the case. The judge continued, “The IGG has to have some relevance if there’s some context that connects the case itself.”

“I’m not quite ready to be convinced, that without getting this information from the experts, that we can find some pathway that’s going to be helpful to Mr Kohberg,” the judge said.

He asked for some “justification” for the defence’s need for the IGG materials, by speaking to experts; he said he was keeping “an open mind” about the matter.

Although both sides provided wishful trial dates, the official trial date has yet to be determined, as Mr Kohberger waived his right to a speedy trial.