Watch CBS News

Lawyers for Idaho murders suspect Bryan Kohberger seek change of trial venue, citing "inflammatory" publicity

"48 Hours" investigates Idaho student murders
Families of Idaho student murders victims share new details to "48 Hours" 05:15

Attorneys for the man charged with stabbing four University of Idaho students to death in late 2022 are seeking a change of venue, saying he cannot receive a fair trial in the community where the killings occurred.

Anne Taylor, Bryan Kohberger's lead public defender, this week asked Judge John Judge of Idaho's 2nd Judicial District in Latah County to schedule a hearing no earlier than the end of April to hear arguments on the potential move, the Idaho Statesman reported.

"A fair and impartial jury cannot be found in Latah County owing to the extensive, inflammatory pretrial publicity, allegations made about Mr. Kohberger to the public by media that will be inadmissible at his trial, the small size of the community, the salacious nature of the alleged crimes, and the severity of the charges Mr. Kohberger faces," Taylor wrote.

Bryan Kohberger, 29, a former criminal justice student at Washington State University in nearby Pullman, Washington, is charged with four counts of murder in the deaths of Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle, Madison Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves at a rental home near the university campus in Moscow, Idaho, last year. Prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty if he is convicted.

Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson told Judge last week that he opposes a change of venue, stating that Latah County first deserved the chance to seat a jury because the crime occurred there. Moving the trial elsewhere would have no material effect on potential jurors' familiarity with the case, he said, because it has already gained national and international notoriety. Members of the media have already been barred from using cameras and audio devices in the courtroom. 

"It's not Moscow, it's not Latah County — it's everywhere," Thomson said. "So I don't think that a change of venue is going to solve any of these problems."

Prosecutors have asked that Kohberger's trial begin in summer 2024 to avoid coinciding with dates when area high school and college classes are in session. The Latah County Prosecuting Attorney's Office has asked the judge to schedule a jury trial to run for about six weeks. 

In December, the University of Idaho demolished the house where the students were murdered. Some family members raised concerns that evidence could be lost as Kohberger goes to trial, but both the prosecution and the defense say they have all the information they need.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.