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Idaho Murder Suspect Talked To Law Enforcement Briefly After Arrest Before Invoking His Rights, His Attorney Says
Bryan Kohberger's attorney says the suspect told investigators he was certainly "aware" of the murders after being taken into custody Friday, before invoking his right to an attorney.
The man suspected of killing four University of Idaho college students initially agreed to speak with law enforcement officers after his arrest Friday morning, but then invoked his right to an attorney a short time later, according to his attorney.
Bryan Kohberger, a 28-year-old doctoral student at Washington State University, initially agreed to waive his Miranda rights and speak with law enforcement officers at the Pennsylvania State Police barracks early Friday morning for about five to 15 minutes after being taken into custody at his parents’ home, according to Law & Crime.
Kohberger’s Monroe County public defender, Jason LaBar, told the news outlet that police asked Kohberger whether he understood what was going on and the 28-year-old replied, “Yes, certainly I’m aware of what’s going on. I’m 10 miles away from this.”
At the time of the Nov. 13 murders of college students Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Madison Mogen, 21; Ethan Chapin, 20; and Xana Kernodle, 20; Kohberger had been studying criminal justice at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, about 10 miles away from the murder scene in Moscow, Idaho.
After admitting he was aware of the sensational case however, LaBar said Kohberger invoked his right to counsel and asked for an attorney.
“He’s calm. He’s fully aware,” LaBar said of his client’s demeanor. “It’s obvious he’s very intelligent…He already has a Master’s. It shouldn’t shock anyone that he’s intelligent.”
LaBar is representing Kohberger in his extradition hearing Tuesday in Pennsylvania as authorities work to get Kohberger returned to Idaho, where he’s facing four counts of first-degree murder and one count of felony burglary.
LaBar is not representing the PhD student in the criminal charges against him — Kohberger will get a new attorney once in Idaho — however, he said in a Tuesday appearance on the “TODAY” show that Kohberger believes he will be exonerated of the charges against him.
“He said this is not him,” LaBar said. “He believes he is going to be exonerated. That’s what he believes, those were his words.”
He added that Kohberger’s family was “obviously shocked” about the allegations against him.
“They don’t believe it to be Bryan,” he said. “This is certainly completely out of character, the allegations, and really they’re just trying to be supportive with the understanding that these four families have suffered loss, so that they’re sympathetic towards that, and that’s why it should remain really private.”
In a statement from the family to People, Kohberger’s father Michael Kohberger, mother Marianne Kohberger and sister Amanda expressed a similar sentiment.
“First and foremost, we care deeply for the four families who have lost their precious children,” they said. “There are no words that can adequately express the sadness we feel, and we pray each day for them. We will continue to let the legal process unfold and as a family we will love and support our son and brother.”
They also urged the public to grant Kohberger the presumption of innocence and not to judge based on “unknown facts” and “erroneous assumptions.”
Kohberger was taken into custody just before 2 a.m. on Friday morning at his parents’ home in Albrightsville, Pennsylvania. The probable cause statement in the case remains sealed until the extradition process is complete; however, two law enforcement officers told NBC News that DNA played a role in identifying Kohberger as a suspect in the brutal stabbings.
Moscow Police Chief James Fry also confirmed during a press conference on Friday that police had discovered “an Elantra” as part of the investigation.
Police had been searching for weeks for a white 2011-2013 Hyundai Elantra spotted near the murder scene at the time of the killings.
Kohberger — who graduated in May from DeSales University with a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice — had just completed his first semester as a PhD student in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Washington State University at the time of his arrest.
Former student Hayden Stinchfield told CNN that Kohberger had served as a teaching assistant at the university, tasked with grading papers, but claimed that his demeanor changed after the murders.
“He started grading everybody just 100s,” Stinchfield said. “And now obviously, he seems like he was probably pretty preoccupied.”
Police have said previously that all four college students were fatally stabbed to death as they were likely asleep in an off-campus rental home they had shared. Chapin — who was dating Kernodle — lived in a nearby fraternity house but had been sleeping over at the time.
Two other roommates, who lived on the ground floor of the home, were not targeted in the attack and survived.
LaBar told Law & Crime that Kohberger left Washington for Pennsylvania sometime between Dec. 13 and Dec. 16 in a pre-planned trip with his father, who had flown to Washington to accompany him on the drive.
LaBar told NBC that the pair were pulled over twice by police while heading through Indiana.
"I don't know whether they were speeding or not or if they were even issued a ticket," he said. "I just know that they were pulled over in Indiana almost back-to-back. I believe once for speeding and once for [following] too closely to a car in front of them."
Fry told ABC News over the weekend that investigators are confident in the arrest and believe Kohberger is the only suspect in the quadruple homicide.
“We believe we have our guy, the one that committed these murders,” he said.