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Crime News University of Idaho Murders

Prosecutors Will Seek Death Penalty Against Idaho Murder Suspect Bryan Kohberger

"Exceptional depravity" is among the "aggravating circumstances" that could warrant capital punishment cited in the new court filing.

By Joe Dziemianowicz
Suspect In University Of Idaho Students' Killings Arrested

Prosecutors will pursue the death penalty against Bryan Kohberger.

A court filing submitted by Latah County prosecutors on Monday expressed that intent. The document indicated that Kohberger allegedly murdered four University of Idaho students in a manner that “exhibited utter disregard for human life.” 

Kohberger, 28, a former Washington State University Ph.D. criminology student, has been accused of killing University of Idaho students Madison Mogen, 21; Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20, in an off-campus rental home in Moscow, Idaho, on November 13, 2022.

RELATED: Surviving Roommate Was 'Scared To Death' After Chilling Encounter With University Of Idaho Suspect, Attorney Says

The four students were stabbed to death in their beds and were probably asleep when they were killed, according to Latah County Coroner Cathy Mabbutt. Each victim suffered multiple stab wounds. 

Kohberger was charged with four counts of first-degree murder and burglary following his arrest at his parents’ home in eastern Pennsylvania on December 30, 2022.

Bryan Kohberger enters a courtroom

Law enforcement confiscated numerous personal belongings of Kohberger at that time, including shoes, socks, and underwear. In addition, medical-style gloves were also seized. Authorities also performed a DNA cheek swab on Kohberger. 

In May, after being indicted by a grand jury, Kohberger declined to enter pleas in Latah County District Court. At that time his defense attorney informed the court they were going to “stand silent.” In response, Judge John Judge entered not guilty pleas on Kohberger’s behalf.

RELATED: ‘There’s Someone Here’: Roommate Heard Idaho Victim Crying, Then Had Chilling Encounter With Masked Man

Kohberger was directly linked to the quadruple homicide at the off-campus house by DNA from the Ka-Bar knife sheath found at the crime scene, authorities have said. Plans by the University of Idaho to raze the three-story residence where the students were killed as “a healing step” were announced in February. 

The document filed Monday by Latah County prosecutor William Thompson cites five “aggravating circumstances'” that could warrant the maximum sentence of capital punishment. One of them is that the manner of the murders signify “exceptional depravity.” 

Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle, Madison Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves

Members of the victims’ family have vowed to be in the courtroom when Kohberger stands trial, but they plan to take steps to avoid hearing the horrific details of the murders. 

“I’m not going to scar myself,” Kristi Goncalves, whose daughter Kaylee was slain, has said.

The June 26 filing indicates: “The State gives this notice based on the fact that it has not identified or been provided with any mitigating circumstances sufficient to prohibit the triers of fact from considering all penalties authorized by the Idaho legislature including the possibility of a capital sentence.”

“Consequently,” the document continues, “considering all evidence currently known to the State, the State is compelled to file this notice of intent to seek the death penalty."