Idaho state prosecutors have filed documents indicating their intention to seek the death penalty against Bryan Kohberger, who stands accused of the brutal slaying of four University of Idaho students in an off-campus rental home on November 13, 2022. Prosecuting attorney William W. Thompson, Jr. stated in the filing that the crime was “especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel, manifesting exceptional depravity.”
Thompson further emphasized that the defendant exhibited a complete disregard for human life and posed a significant ongoing threat to society. Based on the evidence available to the state at this time, Thompson argued that the prosecution was compelled to pursue the death penalty in this case.
Prior to this development, the prosecution had submitted details regarding the DNA evidence linking Kohberger to the crime scene. Authorities believe that DNA from a knife sheath found near one victim, Madison Mogen, was a “statistical match” to DNA obtained from a cheek swab taken after Kohberger’s arrest.
The four victims, including Mogen (21), Kaylee Goncalves (21), Xana Kernodle (20), and Ethan Chapin (20), tragically lost their lives in the incident at a home in Moscow, Idaho.
Bryan Kohberger faces charges of four counts of first-degree murder and one count of burglary. Since his arrest at his parents’ residence in Pennsylvania in late December, he has been held in jail without bail. A judge entered not guilty pleas on his behalf, and his trial is scheduled to commence on October 2.
On the same day that the prosecution announced its intent to seek the death penalty, Kohberger’s defense team claimed that their client had no connection to the victims. They expressed concerns about the prosecution’s DNA collection methods, the use of genetic genealogy, and the tracking of a white sedan allegedly linking Kohberger to the murders. The defense highlighted the presence of DNA from three unidentified males at the crime scene, including on a glove outside the home.
Kohberger’s defense team further questioned the lack of information regarding testing on the three unidentified DNA samples. The investigators employed investigative genetic genealogy techniques, which are relatively new, and the FBI cross-referenced the DNA sample against both public and subscription-only law enforcement databases.
Investigators subsequently obtained a familial match and retrieved DNA samples from Kohberger after his arrest at Washington State University, where he was pursuing a degree in criminology.