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Crime News University of Idaho Murders

Mom Of Idaho Murder Victim Feels ‘Betrayed’ After Attorney Drops Her Case To Represent Her Daughter’s Alleged Killer

“I am heartbroken because I trusted her,” Xana Kernodle's mom said after learning public defender Anne Taylor dropped her unrelated legal case to represent Bryan Kohberger. 

By Jill Sederstrom
Suspect In University Of Idaho Students' Killings Arrested

The mom of an Idaho murder victim says she feels “betrayed” by defense attorney Anne Taylor, who dropped her legal case to represent her daughter’s alleged killer.

Cara Northington, the mother of Xana Kernodle, told NewsNation that Taylor, the chief of the Kootenai County Public Defender’s Office, was representing her on an unrelated drug charge when she suddenly withdrew from the case on Jan. 5.

That same day, Bryan Kohberger, the man accused of fatally stabbing Kernodle and three others in a Moscow, Idaho residence on Nov. 13, had his first court appearance with Taylor by his side.

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“I am heartbroken because I trusted her,” Northington told NewsNation's Ashleigh Banfield. “[Taylor] pretended that she was wanting to help me ... And to find out that she’s representing him, I can’t even convey how betrayed I feel.”

Northington was charged with a drug offense on Nov. 19, just days after the fatal stabbings of Kernodle, 20, her boyfriend Ethan Chapin, 20; and roommates Madison Mogen, 21; and Kaylee Goncalves, 21. They were all students at the University of Idaho.

Bryan Kohberger sits with his attorney, public defender Anne Taylor

Taylor — who has represented Northington on previous charges as well — is now listed as an “inactive attorney” on Northington’s felony drug case, according to the news outlet.

“I don’t understand how she could do this,” Northington said. “I don’t understand what happens now. Does she still have power of attorney?”

Northington said she discovered Taylor had switched cases through a friend on social media and has yet to speak with her former attorney herself.

Taylor, who has lead the county’s public defender’s office since 2017, is the only public defender in North Idaho approved by the state’s public defense commission to lead a capital punishment case, according to The Idaho Statesman.

Taylor, prosecutors and investigators involved with Kohberger’s case are currently under a non-dissemination order issued by the judge that prevents them from publicly speaking about any aspect of the case.

Kohberger, a 28-year-old PhD student in criminology at nearby Washington State University, has been accused of breaking into the University of Idaho students’ off-campus home in the early morning hours of Nov. 13 and stabbing four of the occupants inside, according to an arrest affidavit previously obtained by Oxygen.com.

Two other roommates, including one who told police she saw the masked killer that night, were not targeted in the attack and survived.

The shocking murders stunned the small college community and launched a nearly seven-week investigation to track down the killer.

A social media photo of Xana Kernodle

Kohberger was linked to the crime after authorities were able to match his DNA to a leather knife shealth left behind on Mogen’s bed, according to the affidavit. They also uncovered surveillance footage that showed a white Hyundai Elantra matching the description of his vehicle in the area at the time, authorities said.

In the months since her daughter’s death, Northington told NewsNation that she is “managing as best as you can.”

“I have my friends around me and honestly, I watch a lot of Xana’s TikTok videos and that helps,” she said.

She described her daughter as someone who was “tough,” “strong” and “funny.”

“She just could make you smile, no matter what and she just had a quirkiness about her that not a lot of people possess — that kind of talent to be able to light up a room like she did,” she said.

While Northington doesn’t believe she’ll ever get over the loss, she now hopes to honor Kernodle’s legacy.

“I just think that she would want all of us to live our best life and remember the good things about her,” she said.