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Lawyers representing University of Idaho quadruple murder suspect Bryan Kohberger said on Friday that they support a gag order being left in place despite complaints from one of the victims’ families that the measure has stifled them from speaking out about the ongoing case.
In addition to Latah County prosecutors, Kohberger’s attorneys said they are in favor of the ongoing gag order. Shanon Gray, an attorney for Kaylee Goncalves’ family, argued that various officials have been allowed to speak publicly on the case. Prosecutors noted that Goncalves’ family could be witnesses at Kohberger’s possible sentencing, KTVB reported.
However, it appeared the defense took issue with the continuous media coverage — which has shown their client in an unfavorable light.
“Let statements be made here [in court on Friday], and the media gets that… We don’t have to have someone that’s trying to whip the media into a frenzy and send this case to the firing squad or whatever,” they said in regard to the gag order, according to KTVB.
In court documents filed on Tuesday, Kohberger’s legal team requested limited courtroom filming during Kohberger’s hearings as they claimed it could violate his Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial.
“Crime Stories” host Nancy Grace is mentioned in that filing — with the defense citing her and other media commentators’ segments on the case which were widely shared on social media. The defense wrote that Kohberger’s filmed court appearances have facilitated media outlets to broadcast “unfounded opinions” about their client.
“Following each of Mr. Kohberger’s court appearances, numerous social media posts have been made regarding him through Facebook posts, YouTube and TikTok videos, and podcast,” the document reads.
“Each video attempts to analyze Mr. Kohberger’s demeanor by observing his body language from one court appearance and describing him using phrases such as ‘cold iciness,’ ‘It looks like he is just filled with darkness and hate,’ and ‘he keeps getting creepier’ among numerous other phrases.”
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The filing includes a screengrab of one of Grace’s segments, posted to TikTok, in which she talked about allegations that Kohberger broke into a female colleague’s apartment and installed cameras.
Latah County District Judge John C. Judge said on Friday that he would rule on the gag order later. Grace provided the following statement to Crime Online regarding the latest motions which would affect the media’s access to this case.
“Our constitution calls for open court rooms, free to public access and all who wish to see Justice unfold. We also are protected by freedom of speech. I believe it is wrong that the families have been silenced by a gag order,” Grace said.
Kohberger, a Ph.D. criminal justice student at Washington State University, was arrested in December in Pennsylvania for murdering Maddie Mogen, Goncalves, Ethan Chapin, and Xana Kernodle at the women’s off-campus home. He is believed to have turned off his phone during the November 13 murders. However, police claim he visited the area 12 times before the slayings.
Kohberger was arrested after a cross-country trip with his father from Idaho to Pennsylvania. During their trip, Indiana police pulled over the pair twice. Sources claimed the FBI requested the traffic stops to view possible injuries on Kohberger’s hands.
Kohberger is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and burglary. He remains jailed without bail. His trial is scheduled to begin on October 2.
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[Featured image: Bryan Kohberger/Monroe County Police Department; Nancy Grace/Fox News video screengrab]