Bryan Kohberger is due to appear in court a day after classes resumed for the University of Idaho murder

BOISE, Idaho– The man accused of fatally stabbing four University of Idaho students is expected to appear in court Thursday, a day after classes resumed for students, many of whom were until recently plagued by fears about the case.

Bryan Kohberger, the 28-year-old Washington State University graduate student charged in the case, has yet to file a plea and is awaiting word on whether prosecutors will pursue the death penalty in the high-profile case. Thursday’s hearing is a status conference that often involves planning court dates.

Bryan Kohberger, accused of killing four University of Idaho students, walks after an extradition hearing at the Monroe County Courthouse in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania January 3, 2023.

AP Photo/Matt Rourke, Pool

Nearly two months after the four students were killed near campus — and two weeks after Kohberger was arrested and charged with the crime — the quaint school grounds were starting to feel a little more normal.

On Wednesday, the first day of classes after winter break, students again strode the university’s frosty sidewalks and crowded the campus food court.

A general relief is in the air, said university spokeswoman Jodi Walker.

“The students are back and enrollments are looking good,” Walker said. “I think everyone is happy to be back given the circumstances. You are relieved that an arrest has been made and ready to focus on the semester.”

The November 13 slayings of Madison Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle, and Ethan Chapin left the rural community in Moscow, Idaho with grief and fear, prompting nearly half of the university’s students to leave the city to pursue the perceived Enjoy security of online courses.


Weeks went by without a named suspect being named and few details were released, but on December 30, Kohberger, a graduate student at the university just 10 miles away, was arrested at his parents’ home in eastern Pennsylvania. Kohberger was extradited to Idaho last week.

It’s too early to say exactly how many students have decided to return to face-to-face classes, Walker said. These numbers will be counted in about two weeks to give students time for any schedule changes.

Professor Christopher Williams said when he stopped by the student union building to eat lunch from the food court, it was the most crowded it had been in weeks.

“It looked a lot fuller than I’ve ever seen it, especially towards the end of last semester,” he said.

Students have the opportunity to enroll in a number of after-school self-defense classes, as well as various violence prevention and safety planning programs, Walker said. There is additional security on campus, as well as ongoing counseling and other support services for students, she said.

But it feels like the students have gathered and are determined to succeed despite last semester’s dire circumstances, Walker said.

“It definitely doesn’t take away from what happened, but we’re finding a way forward,” she said.

The Latah County Jail, where Kohberger is being held without bail, is about a 20-minute walk from campus.

During his court appearance on Thursday, a magistrate will discuss the plan with his attorney and the prosecutor.

Sometimes decisions are made at status conferences that alter the course of the case — for example, a defendant might waive his right to a speedy trial or agree to skip the preliminary hearing — but more often the conferences are about things like agreeing on the future court dates, discuss how many days it will take each side to testify, or ensure both sides have access to all the evidence they need.

The next big court appearance could be a preliminary hearing where District Attorney Bill Thompson is expected to show the magistrate he has enough evidence to justify him proceeding with the felony charges. If the magistrate agrees, the case is “transferred” to the Idaho 2nd Circuit Court and a district judge hears the felony case. Then Kohberger has the opportunity to appeal the prosecution. If he pleads not guilty, the case will work toward a trial. If he pleads guilty, criminal proceedings will be instituted.

However, there is no guarantee that a preliminary hearing will take place. Defendants often agree to skip preliminary hearings for any number of reasons, and skipping a hearing does not imply an admission of guilt. Even if a defendant loses a preliminary hearing, he is still presumed innocent in the eyes of the law, and the preliminary hearing cannot be used against him if the case goes to court.

The prosecutor has not yet said whether he will demand the death penalty in the Kohberger case. If Thompson decides to seek the death penalty, he must file a formal notice with the court no later than 60 days after Kohberger has filed a plea.

A magistrate has also issued a gag order barring lawyers and any authorities involved from discussing the case.

Copyright © 2023 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Bryan Kohberger is due to appear in court a day after classes resumed for the University of Idaho murder

Laura Coffey

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