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Surviving roommate of Idaho student slayings agrees to interview by the defense

Bethany Funke agreed to be interviewed by defense counsel in Reno, Nevada, instead of taking the stand at Bryan Kohberger's preliminary hearing in June.
/ Source: TODAY

One of two roommates who survived a gruesome quadruple homicide in their Idaho home last year has agreed to be interviewed by the defense, days after her attorney asked a judge to reject a request for her to attend the suspect's hearing in June.

An attorney for Bethany Funke, one of the surviving roommates, wrote in a motion on April 21 that Funke had been subpoenaed to appear at murder suspect Bryan Kohberger's preliminary hearing in June, as well as potentially for the duration of his trial.

The judge in the case released Funke from the subpoena on April 26 after the prosecution and defense said in court documents she agreed to be interviewed by defense counsel in Reno, Nevada, where she is from, instead of taking the stand in Idaho in June.

Kohberger, 28, was charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one burglary count in December 2022 in connection with the slayings of Ethan Chapin, 20, Xana Kernodle, 20, Madison Mogen, 21, and Kaylee Goncalves, 21.

Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Ethan Chapin and Xana Kernodle.
Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Ethan Chapin and Xana Kernodle.TODAY

He has not yet entered a plea, though a previous attorney for Kohberger said his client told him he believed he would be exonerated.

Kohberger's preliminary hearing is scheduled for the week of June 26. Funke's attorney, Kelli Anne Viloria, argued in the motion earlier this week the subpoena was issued without allowing Funke to address her concerns first.

There is also "no authority for an Idaho criminal defendant to summon a Nevada witness to Idaho for preliminary hearing," Viloria wrote in the motion. The filing also argued if Funke has evidence that could be exculpatory to the defense, she should provide it during a trial, not at a preliminary hearing.

An affidavit attached to the motion filed by a criminal investigator hired by Kohberger's defense said Funke was in a first-floor bedroom at the time of the murders, which took place on the second and third floors of the home on Nov. 13.

Funke was interviewed by police on several occasions, and "disclosed things she heard and things she saw," according to the affidavit.

"Bethany Funke has information material to the charges against Mr. Kohberger; portions of information Ms. Funke has is exculpatory to the defendant," the affidavit said. "Ms. Funke’s information is unique to her experiences and cannot be provided by another witness."

Funke's motion to quash the subpoena said the statements in the affidavit are "without support and there is no further information or detail pertaining to the substance of this testimony, its materiality or the alleged exculpatory information of Ms. Funke or why it would be entertained at preliminary hearing."

Viloria's law firm declined to comment on the motion to NBC News.

The public defender’s office in Washoe County and Kohberger’s attorney Anne Taylor could not immediately be reached for comment.

Bryan Kohberger
Bryan Kohberger is accused of killing four University of Idaho students in November 2022.Ted S. Warren / AP

Funke and Dylan Mortensen, the other surviving roommate, have spoken about the loss of their four friends through letters read aloud in December by a pastor from Real Life Ministries.

Goncalves, Mogen, Kernodle and Chapin were found dead with multiple stab wounds in their off-campus home near the University of Idaho in November.

Mortensen told investigators she stood in a "frozen shock phase" when she saw a man wearing a mask and black clothing walk past her on the night of the murders, according to a probable cause affidavit prepared by police. She then locked herself in her room.

One of the surviving roommate's cellphones was used to call 911 around noon on Nov. 13, police have said, about eight hours after police believe the killings took place.

Investigators said they linked DNA found on a knife sheath left at the crime scene to Kohberger, who was a PhD student studying criminology at Washington State University, which is just over the state line from the University of Idaho. He was arrested on Dec. 30 at his parents' house in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Investigators have not released a motive for the crime, and the murder weapon, believed to be a fixed-blade knife, has not been recovered, police said.