MOSCOW, Idaho — Bryan Kohberger, the suspect accused of fatally stabbing four Idaho college students, stood silent in court on Monday as a judge entered not guilty pleas on all murder charges.
His trial was tentatively set to begin on Oct. 2 by Latah County District Judge John Judge.
When Judge asked Kohberger to enter a plea at the arraignment, defense attorney Anne Taylor stood up and declined on behalf of her client.
“Your honor we will be standing silent,” she told the court.
That prompted Judge to enter not guilty pleas on the defendant’s behalf.
During the highly procedural 15-minute hearing, Judge read all the counts and possible prison sentences for each before asking Kohberger if he understood.
Kohberger said “yes” each time.
Prosecutors now have 60 days to give notice if they’ll seek the death penalty in the trial that’s expected to last six weeks.
Kohberger wore an orange prisoner jumpsuit on Monday as he heard the court read five counts against him, one for burglary and four for first-degree murder in a case and ensuing manhunt that captivated the nation late last year.
Indictments were unsealed last week, formally linking the 28-year-old Kohberger to the Nov. 13 slayings near the University of Idaho.
The court documents said Kohberger “did unlawfully enter” a home in Moscow, Idaho, before “unlawfully, deliberately, with premeditation and with malice aforethought, kill and murder” victims Maddie Mogen, 21; Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20.
Mogen’s mother and stepfather, along with Goncalves’ parents, sister and aunt, were all in court to watch the brief hearing. Mother Kristi Goncalves got up from her seat and embraced Mogen’s stepfather, Scott Laramie, before Judge took the bench.
Kohberger, a doctoral student of criminology at nearby Washington State University, was arrested on Dec. 30 at his family’s Pennsylvania home.
Police and prosecutors have yet to publicly discuss any possible motives for the shocking crimes that rocked the college town on the Idaho-Washington border.
Investigators linked Kohberger to the crime scene through cellphone signals, security camera footage, a witness in the house and a tan leather knife sheath, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in January.
That knife accessory was found near Mogen’s body and had Kohberger family DNA on it, authorities said in court documents.
Police collected garbage from outside the Kohberger family’s Pennsylvania home — and in that trash found DNA that was a high-probability match from the father of the person who left knife sheath behind in Moscow, investigators said.
Roommate Dylan Mortensen has told police she heard crying in the home that early morning and spotted “a figure clad in black clothing and a mask that covered the person’s mouth and nose walking towards her,” according to the court documents.
Mortensen “described the figure as 5’10” or taller, male, not very muscular, but athletically built with bushy eyebrows. The male walked past (her) as she stood in a ‘frozen shock phase.’ The male walked towards the back sliding glass door. (She) locked herself in her room after seeing the male.”
Kevin Nious reported from Moscow, Idaho. David K. Li reported from New York City.