Idaho college killings prosecutors challenge defense’s grand jury claims

In a court filing published on Monday, prosecutors stated that the defense lawyers for Kohberger, a former doctoral candidate charged with the murder of four college students in the previous year, had requested a delay by “bringing up claims of technical infractions without ever clarifying how any of them meet the ‘significant’ criteria outlined” in Idaho’s statute for the process of selecting jurors.

In this instance, Kohberger is requesting a delay in order to have additional time to dispute the indictment. Prosecutors stated that the explanations provided by Kohberger’s defense attorneys were either an incorrect interpretation of the law or beyond the limits of the law. Furthermore, they mentioned that Kohberger has successfully executed his proposed strategy.

The lawsuit has been temporarily halted, with Kohberger’s team requesting for the second time in July, claiming a “seemingly inadequate” grand jury procedure. Without providing details, defense lawyer Anne Taylor stated that “additional abnormalities are present within the grand jury process and further examination is required to ascertain any potential consequences on the formation of this grand jury.”

In the filing on Monday, the prosecution listed and addressed the defense’s allegations of “failure” in the selection procedure.

The prosecution claimed that there was not a factually substantial failure to comply with the process of jury selection. They said that Kohberger’s team could not back up their claims and even before laying their eyes on any materials from the grand jury, they were determined to get a clear stay, as it has been long clear.

The request was denied. The defense had previously requested a pause in June to challenge the basis, which would provide the materials that the grand jury had seen.

Kohberger is facing charges for the killings of four University of Idaho students: Ethan Chapin, 20; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Kaylee Goncalves, 21. If found guilty, he may be sentenced to death.

Allegedly, prosecutors claim that Kohberger, a criminology Ph.D. Student from the nearby Washington State University, unlawfully entered an off-campus residence in the early hours of November 13, 2022, resulting in the fatal stabbing of four students.

Taking him into custody on December 30, 2022, at his family’s residence in Pennsylvania, authorities focused on Kohberger as the alleged perpetrator following a six-week investigation. He was formally accused in May and faced charges of four instances of premeditated homicide and one count of unlawful entry. On his behalf, the judge entered a plea of not guilty during his initial court appearance after he chose not to present a plea.

A court case is set for October 2nd, although a postponement is probable.

In Monday’s filing, the Latah County prosecutor laid out parts of the grand jury process with which the defense had taken issue.

“The defense’s contention would not be effective as a foundation for those matters,” asserted the prosecution. According to the prosecution, Taylor expressed apprehensions in a confidential affidavit regarding “partiality of individual jurors or remarks uttered by the court” throughout the jury selection procedure.

According to the prosecution, the defense attorneys mentioned that a few of the questionnaires submitted by potential jurors did not contain “specific numerical” details “at the beginning of the page.” The prosecution argued that this “administrative” information is not mandatory under Idaho law.

On their questionnaire, one of the grand jurors “marked a box indicating that they do not comprehend English,” according to Monday’s filing.

The prosecution stated that the juror, who mistakenly checked the wrong box on a lengthy questionnaire, showed a mistaken stroke of the pen. This presumably means that the juror was able to complete the questionnaire in English, but cannot entirely understand English. Indeed, if someone cannot understand English, it disqualifies them from sitting on a grand jury.

Those who have been convicted of a felony are considered ineligible, as stated by the prosecution. The prosecution clarified that having a prior criminal record does not automatically prevent someone from serving on a grand jury. In response to the defense’s arguments, the prosecution expresses their opposition to the selection of certain individuals for the grand jury. It came to light during the questionnaire that one of the grand jurors had previously faced criminal charges.

In Monday’s filing, the defense raised concerns about another grand juror who “did not indicate whether they had previously been charged with a crime” and failed to confirm that they were providing honest answers on their questionnaire. The prosecution stated that Kohberger’s team “claims that one of the grand jurors submitted an unfinished questionnaire and implies that this somehow violated the law.” The prosecution further argued that even if the jury commissioner had neglected “to carry out the administrative duty of sending the questionnaire again,” it still did not amount to a “significant failure to adhere” to the statute.

Kohberger’s most recent endeavor to secure a stay is scheduled for discussion at a pretrial hearing this week.

The prosecution argued that the motion, just like his previous one, should be rejected. “The Court should refuse to entertain the Defendant’s already-stated intention to engage in various litigation strategies and instead focus on saving time,” they wrote.