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Defense attorneys for Bryan Kohberger, suspect in Idaho student stabbings, question validity of knife sheath DNA

Kohberger’s attorneys question knife sheath DNA
Bryan Kohberger’s defense attorneys question validity of knife sheath DNA 02:04

Moscow, Idaho — Uncuffed and in plain clothes, Bryan Kohberger walked into a courtroom Friday as the families of the four University of Idaho college students he is accused of murdering last year watched from feet away.

In the hearing, Kohberger's defense questioned the validity of DNA found on a knife sheath at the crime scene that authorities allege connected him to the four murders. Defense attorneys demanded more information from prosecutors about the DNA.

"They have provided full DNA discovery for the sheath, the knife sheath, but not the other three unidentified male DNA samples," defense attorney Anne Taylor told the judge. 

Prosecutors countered that they have handed over what they have.

"We have given the defense everything that we have received from the lab. They've asked for DNA work-ups on other people. To the extent that they don't have them, they weren't done," Latah County Prosecuting Attorney Bill Thompson said. "We can't produce something that doesn't exist."  

Murder Suspect Bryan Kohberger Attends Pre-Trial Hearing In Idaho
Bryan Kohberger enters the courtroom for a hearing on Aug. 18, 2023, in Moscow, Idaho. Kohberger is accused of killing four University of Idaho students in November 2022. August Frank / Getty Images

On Nov. 13, 2022, the four victims were found stabbed to death at an off-campus home in Moscow. Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen and Xana Kernodle resided in the house, while Ethan Chapin was a friend and fellow student.

Kohberger, a Ph.D. criminology student at Washington State University, was arrested in late December following an extensive six-week investigation. In May, the 28-year-old was indicted by a grand jury on four counts of first-degree murder and one count of felony burglary.

According to an affidavit from Moscow police, on Dec. 27, 2022, just three days before Kohberger's arrest, investigators collected trash from Kohberger's family's home in Albrightsville, Pennsylvania, from which they obtained his father's DNA profile. They compared the DNA collected from Kohlberger's father to a DNA profile from the knife sheath, determining it to be a familial match.

In court documents filed in June, prosecutors said that a DNA sample taken from Bryan Kohberger following his arrest was a near-match to the DNA on the sheath.

In court filings earlier this month, Kohberger's attorneys argued that he is innocent and was out driving alone at the time of the murders.

"Mr. Kohberger has long had a habit of going for drives alone," his attorneys said, adding that he "is not claiming to be at a specific location at a specific time."

Criminal defense attorney Joe Tamburino, who is not part of the case, calls it a weak argument.

"An alibi defense is not, 'I simply wasn't there at the time,'" Tamburino told CBS News. "It's, you must provide specifically where you were, time, place. Also, if you have any witnesses."

The judge Friday denied a request by Kohberger's defense to delay the trial, which remains slated to begin as scheduled in October. At his arraignment in May, the judge entered not guilty pleas on Kohberger's behalf when he refused to enter pleas himself, staying silent. 

In June, prosecutors said that if he is convicted of the murders, they will pursue the death penalty against him.

Aliza Chasan, S. Dev, Cara Tabachnick, Gina Martinez and Lilia Luciano contributed to this report.

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