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Bryan Kohberger’s defense in Idaho student murder case asks for change of venue for trial

Bryan Kohberger enters the courtroom for a hearing at the Latah County Courthouse in Moscow.  (August Frank/Lewiston Tribune, pool)
By Kevin Fixler Idaho Statesman

Attorneys for Bryan Kohberger, the man accused of murdering four University of Idaho students in November 2022, has formally asked that a trial be held elsewhere than the community where the homicides took place.

Anne Taylor, Kohberger’s lead public defender, followed up on her pledge at a hearing last week to request a change of venue for the capital murder trial. She asked that Judge John Judge of Idaho’s 2nd Judicial District in Latah County to schedule a hearing no earlier than April to receive arguments on the potential move.

“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.

Merely expanding the size of the jury pool while keeping the trial in Latah County will not “overcome that pervasive prejudicial publicity” to sidestep “bias in the community” because the local population is too small, she added. Taylor filed the formal request Tuesday evening and it posted to an Idaho courts website Wednesday.

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 an appropriate jury because the crime occurred there. He also said he believed moving the trial elsewhere would have no material effect on potential jurors’ familiarity with the case because it has already gained national and international notoriety.