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Plans for memorial garden grow before trial of murder suspect

A shrine honors the four University of Idaho students who were killed last fall in their Moscow house.
Lauren Paterson/Northwest Public Broadcasting
The university is working with a remediation company to get the last of the victims’ belongings returned to the families before the students' house (pictured here) can be demolished. Harmful chemicals are present in the house due to the gathering of forensic evidence, said University of Idaho Dean of Students Blaine Eckles.

The legal proceedings related to the killings of four University of Idaho students resurfaced last week with the arraignment of the man accused of carrying out their murders.

Bryan Kohberger chose to “stand silent” rather than entering a plea. Latah County District Judge John Judge entered not guilty pleas for him, to four counts of first-degree murder and one count of felony burglary.

Now the legal process will, for the most part, go quiet again until Kohberger's scheduled fall trial.

Richard Seamon, a professor at University of Idaho’s College of Law, says a motion to change venue is still possible and will likely happen soon if it’s to happen at all.

“The next step for the prosecution most likely, is going to be to give notice about whether they are seeking the death penalty or not," he said.

As the community awaits the trial, Moscow Mayor Art Bettge says people are trying to find ways to heal and move forward.

“This hit really, really hard and shook everybody up," he said.

Since the tragedy, the city has installed more lighting on the roads between the university and downtown.

Lauren Paterson/Northwest Public Broadcasting
Gifts in honor of victims Madison Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin continue to appear in front of the house where the students lived.

While the city is doing what it can, local students have banded together to create fundraisers for a memorial garden.

“Students are trying to find a way to heal the community because they lost four of their own. Just seeing how students can find ways to heal and help other students heal," said Daniel Ramirez, who recently graduated from the university.

“We've raised over $200-thousand for this Vandal Healing Garden and Memorial, and that's from people from across the country, across the globe, saying, we care, we want to support, ‘how can we help?’” said Blaine Eckles, the U of I's dean of students. He says students who knew the victims will also be working on the project to design the memorial garden.

“We’ve got this call for inspiration out now where anyone, anyone can submit a design concept or idea, we're going to print all those off and give them to the students in the class to help inspire them to create design features for what the healing garden can look like," Eckles said.

Design ideas on how to honor Madison Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle, and Ethan Chapin can be submitted on the university’s website.

Other money for the garden came from the “Vandal Strong” bracelet fundraiser, which netted more than $20,000. More money was raised when music students did a benefit concert in the spring.