Bryan Kohberger, charged in the slayings of 4 Idaho college students, wants cameras out of courtroom

Attorneys in Boise, Idaho, are requesting a ban on cameras in the courtroom, arguing that the news coverage of the criminal proceedings, which they claim violated the judge’s orders and threatened the accused man’s right to a fair trial, should be prohibited. This request comes after the accused man, who is facing charges for the stabbing deaths of four students at the University of Idaho last year, allegedly violated the judge’s orders.

In November of last year, Bryan Kohberger was accused of four instances of homicide in relation to the fatalities at a leased residence close to the college grounds in Moscow, Idaho. In a previous part of this year, a judge submitted a plea of not guilty on behalf of Kohberger. The trial for this case is planned for autumn, although there is a possibility of it being delayed, and Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson has expressed his intention to pursue capital punishment.

The case’s unique specifics have generated significant attention, leading to his apprehension at his parents’ residence in Pennsylvania. Kohberger, a criminology graduate student at Washington State University, situated just a short distance from the crime scene across the state border, was taken into custody.

Judge John Judge of the Second District presided over discussions regarding camera access on Wednesday afternoon.

The defense team also expressed concern that the photos and videos could potentially expose private records and confidential notes on the defense table, risking the right to a fair trial and dehumanizing Kohberger. Attorney Jay Logsdon, representing defense attorney Kohberger, stated that the videos and photos from the courtroom have been both misused and dehumanizing.

Logsdon stated, “I believe that the court proceedings are turning into more of a TV show drama, with the inclusion of videos and photos.” Logsdon further expressed, “I understand our concern about this situation becoming a spectacle.”

He acknowledged that news outlets would likely reuse older images if cameras were banned in case of limiting novelty.

Logsdon expressed that comparing recent images from the court to trendy internet memes, which can often become widely popular, demonstrates the significant influence of novelty. He emphasized that it would be crucial to approach this situation by considering it as a means to diminish the excessive excitement surrounding the case and ultimately focus solely on the textual content, thereby eliminating the distracting and secondary aspects.

According to Wendy Olson, an attorney representing a coalition of news media groups covering the case, Idaho’s rules about how cameras can be used in court already include tools to protect the right to a fair trial and increase public access and understanding of court proceedings by dramatically increasing the coverage of photos and videos. She also mentioned that news organizations have been closely following the judge’s orders regarding videos and photos in the courtroom.

But 2nd District Judge John Judge appeared skeptical of that claim. The criminal case isn’t entertainment — it’s a tragedy, he said.

He expressed that the individuals in charge of operating the pool camera are not the problem, but rather the way in which others make use of the footage is concerning.

“He expressed concern over the question of how to address this issue. The films and images, together with false information, are disseminated. Additionally, they elucidate the manner in which it is discussed, how individuals – specifically commentators – manipulate it, and the destinations of such films. Frequently, the information conveyed is lacking in accuracy.”

Olson stated that if the record is removed, “talking heads” will have the opportunity to spread unchecked false information. It is crucial for responsible news consumers and the general public to have a reliable and consistent source of accurate information, which is why having cameras in the courtroom is the most effective method.

“The response is not reduced sunlight, it’s additional,” she stated.

In the rear of the courtroom, a camera positioned, with a configuration C-SPAN occasionally utilizes to capture Congress, would be akin to an approach that the judge mentioned he was contemplating adopting.

The judge suggested, “Perhaps that could potentially appease everyone, to some extent. I believed it could be a method to somewhat compromise, while still safeguarding our intended interests. I have never witnessed anything excessively extraordinary on C-SPAN.”

He declared that he would reach a conclusion at a subsequent moment, and that it would necessitate “a substantial quantity of evaluating and contemplating diverse elements.”

The judge stated, “I am going to try to figure out the right thing to do for the rule of law and all the parties involved, as well as the public.”

According to investigators, the killings are connected to Kohberger based on surveillance footage, mobile phone records, and DNA proof. The remains of Madison Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle, and Ethan Chapin were discovered on November 13, 2022, in a residence situated opposite the University of Idaho campus.