An Idaho judge has changed the gag order in the Moscow student murders case, which now restricts remarks from lawyers for victims, their families and witnesses — in addition to investigators, the prosecution and defence.
The case against Bryan Kohberger, a 28-year-old Ph.D. student at Washington State University, has been garnering national attention for more than two months.
He reportedly entered a house a short walk from the nearby University of Idaho campus and attacked four undergraduate students with a knife around 4 a.m. on November 13. For nearly seven weeks, police did not publicly name a suspect.
With the help of the FBI, they arrested him in Pennsylvania on December 30. He is charged with four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Maddie Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, as well as Xana Kernodle, 20, and her boyfriend Ethan Chapin, also 20. He faces an additional burglary charge.
IDAHO MURDERS SUSPECT BRYAN KOHBERGER FOLLOWED 3 FEMALE VICTIMS ON INSTAGRAM BEFORE STABLINGS, REPORT CLAIMS
Bill Thompson, the Latah County prosecutor, told a news conference the day of the arrest that he expected most of the information to come out in court.
Latah County Magistrate Judge Megan Marshall doubled that with the new order this week, expanding the scope of the order.
“Counsel for any interested party in this case, including the prosecutor, defense attorney and any attorney representing a witness, a victim or the victim’s family, as well as the parties to the aforementioned action, including , but not limited to, investigators, law enforcement personnel (sic) and agents of the prosecutor or defense attorney are prohibited from making out-of-court statements (written or oral) regarding this case, except, without further comment, a quote or reference to the official public record of the case,” she wrote.
Read the command (application users will here):
At least one victim’s family has hired a lawyer. The new order appears to prohibit Shanon Gray, who represents Kaylee Goncalves’ parents, from publicly discussing the case.
IDAHO MURDERS SUSPECT BRYAN KOHBERGER SPAMMED VICTIM WITH INSTAGRAM DMS: REPORT
It comes shortly after a report, citing an unnamed law enforcement source, alleged that Kohberger sent numerous messages to at least one of the victims on Instagram before the attacks.
“Interestingly, the order does not bind the families of the victims…only their attorneys,” said Edwina Elcox, a Boise-based criminal defense attorney who previously represented the so-called “Cult Mom.” Lori Vallow. “Because what authority does the Court have to bind non-parties? None.”
The basis for the amended order, she said, could be Idaho Professional Conduct Rule 3.6, regarding open trial on page 44.
Read the Idaho Rules of Business Conduct (app users will here)
The three women lived together in the King Road rental house with two other female friends, who were not targeted – including one who told police she heard crying and saw a masked man leave. Chapin was spending the night.
TIMELINE OF STUDENTS STABED AT THE UNIVERSITY OF IDAHO
Goncalves had a dog who also survived the attack – and police said they found possible animal hair when they searched Kohberger’s apartment in Pullman, Washington, near the WSU campus.
Marshall had issued the initial gag order on Jan. 3 — barring prosecutors, the defense and investigators from discussing topics including the evidence in the case, a potential confession, the possibility of a plea deal, opinions on the merits of the case or the defence, and “the good repute, credibility or criminal record of a party”.
For weeks prior, local police and the county attorney had been tight-lipped about the case, and defense attorney Anne Taylor, the public defender for neighboring Kootenai County named in the case, ignored questions from Fox News Digital before the judge’s order.
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Kohberger could face the death penalty. His next scheduled hearing is June 26, when he is expected to challenge the evidence used to obtain his arrest warrant.
As Fox News Digital reported, the preliminary hearing could become pointless if prosecutors secure a grand jury indictment.
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