Defense in Idaho student murder case vigorously challenges the prosecution's evidence

 August 20, 2023

The legal defense team of Bryan Kohberger vigorously challenged the prosecution's DNA evidence during a pre-trial court hearing that took place on Friday. 

Kohberger is the 28-year-old male who stands accused of killing Idaho college students Mogen Goncalves, 21; Kaylee Goncalves, 20; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20. All four individuals were found stabbed to death, on Nov. 13, 2022, in a house that they were renting near the campus of the University of Idaho.

The evidence led investigators to Kohberger, who has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of burglary. Kohberger could be sentenced to death for these crimes.

Kohberger has pled not guilty - or, rather, the judge entered a not guilty plea on his behalf after Kohberger refused to plea.

The latest

On Friday, a pretrial hearing was held on various motions that the lawyers had filed in the case. It was during this hearing that Kohberger's defense team - led by Kootenai County Public Defender Anne Taylor - challenged the prosecution's evidence.

Fox News reports:

Taylor's team also sought to provide witness testimony to discredit the prosecution's DNA evidence – although prosecutors in June alleged that a cheek swab sample, more specific than potential genetic genealogy evidence the defense has called into question – taken from Kohberger is a "statistical match" to a sample taken off a knife sheath left under victim Madison Mogen's body at the crime scene.

To this end, Taylor called to the stand expert witnesses to testify about the use of genetic genealogy research in investigations.

Fox reports, "One expert, Dr. Leah Larkin, a genetic genealogist, testified on the limitations of her field, warning that there is never a 100% match."

The prosecution, however, did not get an opportunity to cross-examine Larkin because the defense apparently did not provide sufficient information about Larkin to the prosecution. So, instead, the prosecution will cross-examine Larkin at a later date.

Motion denied

This was only part of what took place at Friday's hearing.

The judge also considered a motion from the defense to stay the proceedings. The defense argued that the motion ought to be granted due to grand jury irregularities.

The judge, however, disagreed, denying the motion. This means that the trial will proceed as scheduled.

At the time of this writing, a jury has yet to be selected for the trial.

Kohberger's trial is set to begin on Oct. 2, 2023, and it is expected to last over a month, until Nov. 17, 2023. It is unclear whether or not the trial will be televised.

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