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"I'm Not Going To Scar Myself": Mom of University of Idaho Murder Victim Says She'll Try To Avoid Graphic Testimony
The family of University of Idaho murder victim Kaylee Goncalves vows to be in court during the upcoming case against her accused killer Bryan Kohberger, who was indicted by a grand jury this week.
The family of Kaylee Goncalves suffered unimaginable loss when she was one of four University of Idaho students killed in an off-campus house last November — and now, they're gearing up for another difficult stretch when the court proceedings against her accused killer kick off.
Goncalves, 21, was fatally stabbed along with her roommate and best friend Madison Mogen, fellow roommate Xana Kernodle, and Ethan Chapin, the boyfriend of Kernodle, on Nov. 13, 2022. Another two roommates were unharmed in the attack. Bryan Kohberger was arrested and charged with four counts of first-degree murder and burglary in the slayings.
Kohberger was indicted on Tuesday by a grand jury in Idaho, and is due in court Monday morning for an arraignment, where he's expected to enter a plea, according to NBC News. A preliminary hearing had initially been set for late June, but the grand jury indictment allows the state to skip those proceedings.
Kohberger was indicted on four counts of murder and one count of burglary, and could face the death penalty if found guilty.
Goncalves' family has vowed to be in the courtroom for Kohberger's upcoming trial, but some plan to take measures to protect themselves from hearing some of the most gruesome details about their loved one's murder.
The victim's mother, Kristi Goncalves, says she will try to keep her distance from the courtroom when graphic details are being discussed and presented.
"I'm not going to scar myself," Kristi told ABC News. "I have visions of my own that, you know, I have to deal with."
"I think a big thing is for us to go in strong, united as a family," Kristi told the news organization, which also spoke to other members of the family ahead of last Saturday's University of Idaho graduation, where Goncalves' siblings accepted their slain sister's posthumous degree.
"I've never been to a preliminary trial before," Kristi said, before news of the indictment came. "I have no idea what to expect, I have no idea what we're going to hear. ... But I know that I've got my son, and my daughter will be there, and my sister, and my husband."
The grieving mom spoke about the shock of seeing her daughter's alleged killer for the first time during an earlier court appearance. "I was completely overwhelmed," she said. "I actually almost thought I was gonna pass out."
She added, "My daughter saw him face-to-face and in a very different light than we saw him, sitting there [in court], looking very meek."
Goncalves' father, Steve Goncalves, also stressed the importance of being in the courtroom for the upcoming proceedings.
"I can't wait to see the evidence," he told ABC News. "And then I'm gonna bring it. And he's gonna realize that this ... is the family that's gonna make sure he doesn't get away with it."
Kohberger, 28, was arrested on Dec. 30 at his parents' Pennsylvania home. The suspect was allegedly going through the trash in the home's kitchen while wearing latex gloves, placing his personal garbage into Ziploc bags, at the time he was taken into custody. Prosecutors have suggested this was an attempt to keep his DNA from being collected by authorities.
Police conducted a cheek swab on Kohberger the night he was arrested, with his DNA matching samples present on the sheath of a knife left behind at the scene of the murders. The knife used in the attacks has yet to be found.
Kohberger was a criminal justice graduate student at Washington State University at the time of the killings, which is less than 10 miles from the University of Idaho.
Despite the close distance between the campuses, authorities have said that Kohberger didn’t know any of the victims.
Goncalves' family made similar statements to ABC in last week's interview, saying they haven't been able to find any link between their loved one and Kohberger.
"I've thought long and hard" about whether Goncalves and her suspected killer could have met at some point, Kristi said. "We've talked as a family, you know, we've done a lot of research on what's out there. ... None of it makes sense."
Goncalves' brother Steven shot down rumors that Kohberger went to a party at the home where the four students were killed.
"You're not having just some random stranger at your party," Steven told ABC. "There's plenty of things that would have quickly [been] noticed and [he'd be] removed from the party."