MOSCOW, Idaho -- A district court judge in Idaho has denied a request to dismiss a grand jury indictment in the case of Bryan Kohberger, the man accused of fatally stabbing four University of Idaho students.
During a public hearing Thursday, the defense argued there was an error in the grand jury instructions and that "the Grand Jury was misled as to the standard of proof required for an indictment."
Kohberger faces four counts of first-degree murder in connection with the November 13 deaths of 21-year-olds Kaylee Goncalves and Madison Mogen; and 20-year-olds Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin, who were fatally stabbed in their off-campus home in Moscow, Idaho. A not guilty plea has been entered on his behalf.
The Idaho State Constitution, Kohberger's defense attorneys argued, sets the standard of proof for a grand jury beyond a reasonable doubt. But the grand jury in the case against Kohberger was given the lower standard required for an archaic process called a presentment, which requires a preliminary hearing. As a result, failing to properly instruct the grand jury is grounds for a dismissal of the indictment, the defense said.
But Latah County District Court Judge John Judge denied the motion, saying, "I am constrained by what I believe is settled law in Idaho ... This is certainly an issue that you would have to bring with a higher court, like the Idaho Supreme Court."
"I think the argument is good, but I can't go that far, not today," Judge continued, adding he would issue a written decision at a later time.
The open hearing was the second held Thursday, and both addressed different motions to dismiss Kohberger's indictment. The first closed hearing was a dismissal request by the defense, based on a biased jury. The judge's decision from that hearing hasn't yet been released.
The killings and lengthy investigation rattled the community of Moscow, a city of 25,000 people that hadn't recorded a murder since 2015. After weeks with little information and heightened anxieties, Kohberger, a graduate student from nearby Washington State University, was arrested at his parents' house in Pennsylvania.
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