In a court filing Monday, Latah County Prosecuting Attorney William Thompson announced his intent to seek the death penalty against Bryan Kohberger, the man charged with the murders of four University of Idaho students.
Kohberger was indicted last month on one count of burglary and four counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of University of Idaho students Madison Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin, at an off-campus house in the early morning of Nov. 13, 2022.
All four victims were found stabbed to death.
Police arrested the 28-year-old Washington State University graduate student at his parents’ home in Pennsylvania on Dec. 30, 2022, following an investigation that tied his cell phone location, vehicle and DNA to the crime scene.
Thompson wrote in his notice that five aggravating circumstances appeared to exist that justified his decision to seek the death penalty for Kohberger.
1. The defendant (allegedly) committed multiple murders.
2. The murder was especially heinous, atrocious or cruel and exhibited exceptional depravity.
3. The defendant exhibited utter disregard for human life.
4. The murder was committed in the perpetration of, or attempt to perpetrate, arson, rape, robbery, burglary, kidnapping or mayhem and the defendant killed, intended killing, or acted with reckless indifference to human life.
5. The defendant, by his conduct, has exhibited propensity to commit murder which will probably constitute continuing threat to society.
Investigators found a Ka-Bar knife sheath partially under the body of Mogen that was submitted to the Idaho State Police Lab where a single male source of DNA was discovered.
Authorities came up with no matches when they conducted a comparison of the DNA against the national CODIS database until they used genetic genealogy services to create a family tree that reportedly tied back to Kohberger.
Prior to the defendant’s arrest in December, law enforcement obtained DNA from garbage thrown away at his parents’ home. The DNA was matched to the father of the individual whose DNA was discovered on the knife sheath. Upon Kohberger’s arrest, a cheek swab of DNA was matched to the DNA on the knife sheath.
A Pennsylvania prosecutor said that when police executed Kohberger’s arrest at his Pennsylvania home, he was found attempting to conceal DNA evidence by placing his personal garbage in separate Ziploc bags while wearing latex gloves.
ABC News reported Tuesday that Kohberger was convicted of misdemeanor theft in Pennsylvania in 2014 at the age of 19 for stealing his sister’s cell phone. He was given probation. Once he completed it, his record was expunged under the state’s “Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition” program.
The court records that ABC News acquired show that Kohberger’s father reported the crime and told authorities that his son struggled with drug addiction.
He also told authorities that his son said “not to do anything stupid” when the senior Kohberger confronted him over the theft.
A new law in Idaho that allows death row inmates to be executed by firing squad if the necessary lethal drugs are unavailable goes into effect Saturday, July 1.
Kohberger was pursing a P.h.D. in criminology at the time of the murders.
His trial is set to begin Oct. 2.