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Bryan Kohberger’s attorneys ask judge to dismiss indictment in Idaho slayings case

Attorneys for Kohberger, who is accused of killing four University of Idaho students, argued in a court filing that the grand jury was “misled.”
/ Source: NBC News

Attorneys for Bryan Kohberger, the man accused of killing four University of Idaho students last year, have filed a motion seeking to get his indictment in the slayings dismissed, a court filing shows. 

In the filing, dated Tuesday, attorneys for Kohberger, 28, argue that the grand jury was “misled as to the standard of proof required for an indictment.”

They say the grand jury should have been informed that the standard of proof required for an indictment would be “beyond a reasonable doubt.” 

However, they argue that the grand jury was instead “erroneously instructed” with the standard of proof required for a “presentment,” which they say would mean having a “reasonable ground for believing the defendant has committed” an alleged offense. 

“The failure to properly instruct a Grand Jury as to the standard of proof is grounds for dismissal of the Indictment,” the filing states.

If the judge refuses to dismiss the indictment, Kohberger’s defense team has asked for a new preliminary hearing to determine whether the case should move forward. The Latah County Prosecutor’s Office did not immediately respond to an overnight request for comment.

Kohberger is accused of fatally stabbing Ethan Chapin, 20, of Conway, Washington; Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Xana Kernodle, 20, of Avondale, Arizona; and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho, on Nov. 13. Any potential motive remains unknown.

Kohberger, a doctoral candidate at nearby Washington State University studying criminology, was arrested on Dec. 30 in Monroe County in northeastern Pennsylvania.

A grand jury in Latah County indicted him on murder charges on May 16, and he was arraigned on May 22, with a judge entering a not guilty plea on all murder charges.

Attorneys for Kohberger recently suggested they had evidence that would corroborate him being at a location other than the crime scene on the night of the slayings that left four University of Idaho students dead.

Meanwhile, prosecutors have previously said in court documents that DNA on a knife sheath found at the off-campus home where the four students were killed directly links Kohberger to the crime scene.

A June 16 filing from the Latah County Prosecutor’s Office said law enforcement officials used investigative genetic genealogy to link DNA found on the sheath to the suspect. The investigation found the DNA was at least 5.37 octillion times more likely to be Kohberger’s than an unrelated member of the public, according to the document.

Law enforcement sources had previously told NBC News that DNA played a role in helping investigators identify Kohberger as a suspect.

Kohberger’s trial is tentatively set to begin on Oct. 2.