Attorneys representing Bryan Kohberger, charged with the fatal stabbing of four University of Idaho students in late 2022, are seeking a change of venue, arguing that a fair trial cannot be ensured in the community where the killings took place.
Lead public defender Anne Taylor requested a hearing from Judge John Judge of Idaho’s 2nd Judicial District in Latah County, proposing a date no earlier than the end of April to present arguments for the change.
Taylor emphasized that the extensive pretrial publicity, inflammatory media coverage, small community size, and the nature and severity of the charges make it impossible to impanel an impartial jury in Latah County.
Bryan Kohberger, a 29-year-old former criminal justice student at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, faces four counts of murder for the deaths of Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle, Madison Mogen, and Kaylee Goncalves at a rental home near the University of Idaho campus in Moscow, Idaho. Prosecutors are considering the death penalty if he is found guilty.
Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson expressed opposition to a change of venue, asserting that the county deserves the opportunity to seat a jury due to the crime occurring there.
Thompson argued that moving the trial elsewhere would not alleviate concerns about potential jurors’ familiarity with the case, as it has already garnered national and international attention. Media access to the courtroom has been restricted, with cameras and audio devices prohibited.
“It’s not Moscow, it’s not Latah County — it’s everywhere,” Thompson stated. “So I don’t think that a change of venue is going to solve any of these problems.”
Prosecutors have suggested a summer 2024 start for Kohberger’s trial, aiming to avoid scheduling conflicts with local high school and college sessions. The Latah County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has proposed a six-week jury trial.
In December, the University of Idaho demolished the house where the students were murdered, prompting concerns from some family members about potential evidence loss. However, both the prosecution and defense assert that they have all the necessary information for the trial.