This is a breaking news story. Check back to idahostatesman.com for updates.
To sign up for breaking news alerts, click here.
The capital murder trial of Bryan Kohberger, the suspect in the University of Idaho student homicides, was indefinitely postponed from its scheduled October start date after he waived his right to a speedy trial at a court hearing Wednesday.
The significant development in the case comes just five days after an all-day hearing when Judge John Judge of Idaho’s 2nd Judicial District in Latah County set a deadline of Sept. 15 for Kohberger to make such a decision. Under state law, criminal defendants must receive a trial date within six months of their arraignment if they don’t waive that right.
In mid-May, a grand jury in Latah County convened by the prosecution indicted Kohberger on four counts of first-degree murder and one count of felony burglary, which eliminated a scheduled preliminary hearing. Kohberger was arraigned a week later and stood silent when asked for his plea to the charges, leading Judge to enter a plea of not guilty. Judge set a trial date of Oct. 2.
Anne Taylor, Kohberger’s lead defense attorney, requested the Wednesday hearing last week, telling Judge she thought it would be quick but asked that it be held in person rather than virtually. Kohberger joined her in attendance, dressed in a white shirt and gray tie.
Kohberger, 28, is accused of slaying four U of I students to death at an off-campus home on King Road in Moscow in November. The victims were seniors Madison Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves, both 21; and junior Xana Kernodle and freshman Ethan Chapin, both 20.
The Goncalveses posted to their family Facebook page Wednesday morning before the hearing, asking for prayers.
“We are afraid he is going to waive his rights to a speedy trial,” the post read. “If he does, trial will not be starting on Oct. 2 and it is very likely that it won’t take place for years. We want to get this trial over. Just thinking it could be years absolutely kills me.”
Kohberger, a former graduate student in the criminal justice and criminology department at Washington State University, was arrested in December while visiting his family in eastern Pennsylvania on a break from school. The break in the case ended a nearly eight-week manhunt. Kohberger was flown to Idaho on Jan. 4 and made his first court appearance in the state on the charges the next day.
Kohberger has remained in custody at the Latah County Jail, in the basement of the county courthouse, awaiting his trial for nearly eight months.
The next scheduled court appearance for Kohberger is Sept. 1, when Judge will hear the defense’s motion to dismiss the grand jury indictment based on arguments that the jurors did not receive proper instructions, and that the indictment didn’t meet the necessary legal threshold. A grand jury is secretive process in which the defendant and their defense, and public, are not allowed to attend.
The prosecution filed its objection to the defense’s motion to dismiss the indictment last week. The pretrial schedule may be updated on account of Kohberger waiving his speedy trial right Wednesday.