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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Judge sets murder trial date for Bryan Kohberger, suspect in Moscow college student deaths

Bryan Kohberger listens to arguments during a hearing to overturn his grand jury indictment on Oct. 26 in Moscow, Idaho. Kohberger, a former criminology PhD student, was indicted in the November 2022 killings of Madison Mogen, 21; Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20, in an off-campus apartment near the University of Idaho.  (Kai Eiselein/Pool/Getty Images/TNS)
By Kevin Fixler Idaho Statesman

The trial date for Bryan Kohberger, the suspect in the University of Idaho student homicides, is set. But where the trial may be held is still undecided.

Judge John Judge of Idaho’s 2nd Judicial District in Latah County at a hearing Thursday scheduled Kohberger’s murder trial for June next year and planned for a three-month long trial. That timeline would carry the trial through most of August 2025.

“As I look through all of this, there’s going to be a lot of motions, a lot of hearings, a lot of work,” Judge told the court Thursday. “And I tried to balance this out, and I do think it’s a pretty fair balance and I hope realistic.”

After the hearing, Judge issued his written order for the trial to begin on June 2, 2025, and run through Aug. 29, 2025. The filing lists a slew of other motion and hearing deadlines leading up to the closely watched case.

Judge said he expected it to take two weeks to seat a jury and eight weeks for the trial.

Kohberger, 29, faces four first-degree murder charges in the stabbing deaths of the U I students in November 2022. The victims were seniors Kaylee Goncalves and Madison Mogen, both 21, junior Xana Kernodle and freshman Ethan Chapin, both 20.

Sentencing, if Kohberger is convicted, could take up to two weeks, Judge said, including arguments for and against execution. Prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty for Kohberger.

Prosecutors and Kohberger’s public defense team offered no objection to Judge’s proposed timeline. The scheduled date met the prosecution’s prior request for a trial over the summer to avoid conflicts with the local high school and the academic calendar for U I in Moscow, where the four victims attended college.

Anne Taylor, Kohberger’s lead public defender, called the trial schedule “reasonable,” but noted she had yet to present evidence over her push to move the trial out of Latah County over concerns of local juror bias against her client. The prosecution opposes moving the trial elsewhere in the state, and a hearing over the issue is scheduled for Aug. 29.

“If that motion is granted, the court anticipates that the trial dates will not change, although the location of the trial would,” Judge said in his written order.

The hearing Thursday, which Kohberger attended wearing a navy blue suit and tie, lasted less than 15 minutes. Seated next to Taylor, he stood up at its conclusion, was directed by a bailiff, and shuffled out of sight of the court’s live webstream wearing shackles around his ankles.

Kohberger now jailed 18 months, and counting

At the time of the homicides, Kohberger was a graduate student at Washington State University in nearby Pullman. He was arrested about seven weeks after the homicides in December 2022 while visiting his parents in eastern Pennsylvania during winter break from school.

Kohberger was arraigned in May 2023 and stood silent when asked for his plea to the charges, which also includes one felony burglary count. Judge entered a plea of not guilty on Kohberger’s behalf and set a trial date of October 2023. Until Thursday, that initial date was indefinitely postponed after Kohberger later waived his right to a speedy trial within six months of his arraignment.

“We’re about 13 months from the arraignment, and I think at this point — this is my opinion — that we’re getting the point of diminishing returns,” Judge said Thursday. He then proposed June 2025 for the high-profile murder trial.

The parents of Kaylee Goncalves have been some of the biggest proponents of scheduling a trial date, and also criticized the perceived slow pace of the legal process to this point. In a statement to the Statesman on Thursday through their attorney, the Goncalveses said they hoped that the trial remained in Latah County to help avoid any further delays.

“It was a good day today. We were able to get a trial date set and things appear to be moving forward,” the Goncalves family said. “We moved a little closer to justice today for Kaylee, Maddie, Xana and Ethan. Thank you again for all your support and prayers. It means a lot to our family!”

If Kohberger is convicted, the jury would have to reach a unanimous decision to sentence him to death, per Idaho law.