20.04.2024

Relative of Idaho killings victim wears T-shirt with pro-firing squad message at suspect’s hearing

A family member of Idaho murder victim Kaylee Goncalves reportedly wore a shirt with a pro-firing squad message at her suspected killer’s hearing.

Bryan Kohberger, 28, returned to the Latah County Courthouse on Friday for a pre-trial hearing. Mr Kohberger, a former criminology PhD student at Washington State University, is accused of the 13 November slayings of University of Idaho students Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle, and Ethan Chapin.

Mr Kohberger’s attorneys requested additional DNA from prosecutors, who said they could not produce material that had not yet been provided to them by the crime lab. Judge John Judge also denied the defence’s motion alleging that prosecutors had violented Mr Kohberger’s rights by convening a 32-people grand jury, instead of 45, according to NewsNation.

The judge ruled that there weren’t any substantial failures in the grand jury indictment, allowing the trial to move forward with its 2 October start date.

During the proceedings, a Goncalves family member was reportedly seen wearing a shirt supporting the death by firing squad if Mr Kohberger were to be convicted, Idaho Statesman reporter Kevin Fixler revealed on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Prosecutors announced earlier this year that they would be seeking the death penalty in the quadruple murder case. Due to a bill signed into law in March by the state’s Republican Governor Brad Little, which goes into effect on 1 July, Mr Kohberger could face the firing squad if convicted of the murders.

Death row inmates are to be executed by firing squad only if the lethal injection is not available.

Shortly after Mr Kohberger’s arrest in January, Goncalves family members voiced their support for the death penalty. The grieving relatives, along with all the parties involved in the high-profile case have since been banned from speaking to the media about the ongoing proceedings.

Mr Kohberger is due to stand trial on 2 October after being indicted by a grand jury on four counts of first-degree murder and one burglary charge.

His defence claimed earlier this month that he was out on a solo drive on the night of the murders. Prosecutors have tied him to the murders, in part, through surveillance footage showing his white Hyundai Elantra travelling to and from the crime scene.

The affidavit, released in January, outlined some of the evidence against the accused killer – including his DNA on a knife sheath left behind at the scene of the murders, the surveillance footage and cellphone activity.

The sheath – for a military or Ka-Bar style knife – was found partly under Mogen’s body after she and Goncalves were found stabbed multiple times on Mogen’s bed on the third floor of the home. DNA on the button clasp of the sheath was then found to match that of the 28-year-old accused killer.

Mr Kohberger’s attorneys have sought to cast doubts on the strength of this DNA evidence, in particular the use of genetic genealogy.

On Friday, Mr Kohberger’s defence asked prosecutors to share the lab results of three unidentified male DNA samples reportedly found at the crime scene. Prosecutors argued that they have provided everything and that they “can’t provide something that doesn’t exist”.

“There has to be some level of trust in discovery. You are all sworn attorneys,” Mr Judge said.

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