Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson has announced his intention to seek the death penalty for Bryan Kohberger, the 28-year-old man accused of brutally stabbing four University of Idaho students to death in November 2022.
The shocking crime took place at a rental house near the university campus, sending shockwaves through the community.
Thompson filed the notice of intent to seek the death penalty in court on Monday, intensifying the legal battle that has been unfolding since Kohberger’s arrest at his parents’ home in eastern Pennsylvania on December 30, 2022.
Kohberger faces four counts of murder in connection with the tragic deaths of the university students.
The case against Kohberger hinges on DNA evidence, cellphone data, and surveillance footage that allegedly link him to the slayings. Police discovered traces of DNA on a knife sheath found inside the victims’ home, which matches Kohberger’s DNA profile.
Furthermore, cellphone records indicate that Kohberger’s phone was in the vicinity of the victims’ residence on numerous occasions leading up to the killings. Surveillance video also captured a white sedan, similar to one owned by Kohberger, repeatedly passing by the rental house during the time of the murders.
While the prosecution believes it has a strong case, defense attorneys have filed several motions requesting additional evidence, including the DNA profiles of three other unidentified males that were developed during the investigation.
They are also seeking more information about the searches conducted on Kohberger’s phone and social media records, as well as the surveillance footage used to identify the make and model of the car.
In accordance with Idaho law, Thompson listed five “aggravating circumstances” that could make the crime eligible for the death penalty. These include multiple murders, extreme heinousness or exceptional depravity, commission during the perpetration of a burglary or other crime, and an “utter disregard for human life” demonstrated by the defendant.
However, even if a conviction and death sentence are secured, the execution process in Idaho has faced obstacles in recent months.
Prison officials have struggled to obtain the necessary chemicals for lethal injections, resulting in repeated delays in scheduled executions.
As of July 1, a new law allowing death by firing squad will come into effect, although its implementation is expected to face legal challenges in federal court.