Idaho murder suspect 'stands silent' at plea hearing

·2 min read
Bryan Kohberger, in an orange prison jumpsuit, is led away at the end of a hearing in Latah County District Court on 5 January, 2023, in Moscow, Idaho
Bryan Kohberger chose to "stand silent" at the hearing

A judge has entered a not guilty plea on behalf of the man accused of fatally stabbing four college students at the University of Idaho.

Bryan Kohberger, 28, was arraigned on four counts of first degree murder and one felony count of burglary.

He chose to "stand silent", meaning he did not enter a guilty or not guilty plea when asked to in court.

In such cases, the judge records a not guilty plea on the defendant's behalf.

In November 2022, Ethan Chapin, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle and Madison Mogen were found stabbed to death at their home near the college campus in Moscow, Idaho.

Family members sobbed as the judge read the names of each of the victims, according to reporters present in court.

If convicted, Mr Kohberger could face the death penalty, or life in prison without the possibility of parole, and fines.

He told the judge that he understood the felony charges against him.

Prosecutors now have 60 days to inform the court whether they will seek the death penalty in the case. A tentative trial date was scheduled for October.

The gruesome murder of the four college students days before Thanksgiving in 2022 shocked the nation.

In the early hours of 13 November 2022, a man entered their off-campus home.

Two surviving roommates later told police they could hear sounds of a struggle from down the hall.

One of the survivors said she opened her bedroom door to see a man in a black ski mask with "bushy eyebrows" walk past her down the hall and out of the sliding glass door, according to police affidavits.

Murder victims Madison Mogen and Xana Kernodle
Madison Mogen (L) and Xana Kernodle were among the four victims murdered last year

Investigators spent six weeks searching for a suspect. They ultimately arrested Mr Kohberger at his parents' home more than 2,000 miles away from the crime scene in Pennsylvania on 30 December.

At the time of his arrest, Mr Kohberger was studying to earn a PhD in criminology from Washington State University, eight miles from Moscow over the Idaho/Washington border.

Investigators have said the killer left DNA on a "leather knife sheath" found at the crime scene.

In January, unsealed court documents revealed police collected a knife, Glock pistol, black gloves, a black hat and a black face mask during a search of Mr Kohberger's home.

Days after his arrest, Mr Kohberger's public defender told reporters his client "believes he's going to be exonerated".

But when it came time to enter a plea to the charges against him, Mr Kohberger elected to "stand in silence".

Once indicted, defendants are generally required to enter a plea to the charges.

However, according to Idaho criminal law statutes, if a defendant refuses to plead guilty or not guilty, the judge automatically enters a plea of "not guilty."