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Judge enters not guilty pleas on behalf of suspect in Idaho murders

University of Idaho murders
Man indicted for murders of 4 University of Idaho students
Posted at 12:11 PM, May 22, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-22 19:55:18-04

The man accused of murdering four University of Idaho students remained silent during his arraignment Monday. Bryan Kohberger, 28, did not respond when the judge asked him in court how he pleaded to the charges brought against him — four counts of first-degree murder and one count of burglary — which led the judge to enter not guilty pleas on his behalf.

Kohberger was indictedlast week by a grand jury.

Prosecutors allege that Kohberger broke into an off-campus house and fatally stabbed Ethan Chapin, a 20-year-old from Conway, Washington; Madison Mogen, a 21-year-old from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho; Xana Kernodle, 20, from Avondale, Arizona; and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, from Rathdrum, Idaho.

Goncalves' family had planned to be at the courthouse in Moscow, Idaho, for the arraignment.

"He knows, you know, what he did to our daughter," Kaylee Goncalves' mother, Kristi Goncalves, told "48 Hours" last week.

"He's going to feel all of us just staring at the back of his head because he won't even turn around," she said.

It is unlikely that Kohberger will be offered a plea deal. It could be up to six months or even longer before his case goes to trial.

Kohberger is waiting to learn whether prosecutors in the high-profile case will pursue the death penalty.

Kristi Goncalves said that at the end of the trial, she hopes Kohberger will "be put to death like an animal, like he is."

According to prosecutors, the alleged crimes occurred in the early morning hours of Nov. 13, 2022, when Kohberger broke into the victims' off-campus residence. Using a large military-style knife, he allegedly inflicted multiple stab wounds on Goncalves, Mogen, Kernodle and Chapin. Authorities believe the victims were likely asleep during the attack.

Following an extensive investigation, Kohberger was arrested nearly seven weeks after the murders at his family's homein eastern Pennsylvania. Prosecutors have presented various pieces of evidence, including DNA traces matching Kohberger found on a knife sheath at the crime scene and surveillance footage showing a vehicle similar to the one owned by the accused repeatedly passing by the students' house on the night of the killings.

Kohberger, who was pursuing a Ph.D. in criminology at Washington State University and residing in Pullman, Washington, at the time of the murders, has been the subject of intense scrutiny. Although the police confiscated several items from his apartment, including potential evidence, no murder weapon has been recovered. The absence of a clear motive and the lack of a weapon could potentially pose challenges to the prosecution's case, according to CBS News legal contributor Jessica Levinson.

"Having a defendant who is at least ostensibly an expert in the criminal justice system does add an additional layer. It will be really interesting to see if the prosecution would use that to argue he knew exactly what he was doing," Levinson said.

Last weekend, the University of Idaho posthumously awarded degrees to Madison Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves, honoring their academic achievements.


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