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Judge enters not guilty pleas on Bryan Kohberger’s behalf, trial set for October

Bryan Kohberger was arrested last year and charged with four counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Madison Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin. All four University of Idaho students were stabbed to death at an off-campus home last November.

At his arraignment hearing Monday morning in Moscow, Kohberger’s lawyer, Anne Taylor, announced he was choosing to “stand silent” and would not enter a plea. District Court Judge John C. Judge announced he would enter pleas of not guilty for all charges, including one count of felony burglary, on behalf of Kohberger.

Taylor said the trial will take at least four to six weeks when discussing how the trial would proceed. Kohberger declined to waive his right to a speedy trial and the trial date is now set for October 2.

Choosing to “stand silent” means at trial the prosecutor will attempt to meet its burden of proof, to prove the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The November stabbings sent shockwaves through the small college towns of Moscow and Pullman as authorities searched for a suspect for over a month. An FBI tip line was set up, and Idaho State Police used their forensics lab to gather DNA at the scene of the attack.

Many University of Idaho students left the area after the killings out of fear for their safety, opting to take their finals online.

The case attracted international attention, with online sleuths and influencers taking it upon themselves to solve the crime.

Haadiya Tariq is a recent University of Idaho graduate who served as editor-in-chief of the Argonaut, the campus newspaper. She said the media attention has become a huge part of the story surrounding the killings.

“It’s become such a sensationalized story in a small rural town that’s usually isolated,” said Tariq.

As the attention of the case on social media continues to swell, it’s important to keep in mind that the online world is smaller than people think, said Tariq.

“A lot of the media and national media frustrations we've had all come down to individual peoples’ obsession with true crime and wanting to become detectives on their own,” she said.

Now that a trial date is set, the media is likely to return in the fall to follow the story.

“While everybody has thought about this case, and it’s hung over Moscow, we’re still very early into this process,” said Corey Kleer-Larson, a lawyer in Pullman. “At this point in time, the defense hasn’t really had the opportunity to defend.”

The trial could be pushed to a different county depending on discovery, and other unforeseen factors, said Kleer-Larson.

For now, the trial is set to take place in Latah County. Prosecutors have 60 days to announce whether they will seek the death penalty.

This spring, Idaho Governor Brad Little signed House Bill 186 into law, which permits state prison officials to carry out executions by firing squad. Earlier this month, Kohberger added Elisa G. Massoth to his defense team. Massoth is qualified to represent clients facing the death penalty, according to Idaho court documents.

While many people across the world have already convicted Kohberger in the court of public opinion, it’s important to realize there’s still a trial to be had, Kleer-Larson said.

“A jury of his peers still has to determine beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed these heinous crimes,” Kleer-Larson said. “In our justice system, it’s important to realize that somebody is still innocent until proven guilty.”

Raised along the Snake River Canyon in southern Idaho, Lauren Paterson reports on culture and socioeconomics in the Pacific Northwest. Her stories focus on working class and tribal communities.