Idaho murders suspect Bryan Kohberger claims innocence as he appears in court with cuts on face

Kohberger says only 4 words in court; judge sets preliminary hearing for June 26

ByDakin Andone and Josh Campbell, CNN, CNNWire
Friday, January 13, 2023
Idaho College Murders
Idaho College Murders

BOISE, Idaho -- The man suspected of killing four University of Idaho students appeared in court Thursday for a status conference, where a judge scheduled a preliminary probable cause hearing to begin June 26.

Bryan Kohberger, who appeared in court wearing an orange prison uniform with his feet shackled, waived his right to a speedy probable cause hearing within 14 days. The 28-year-old spoke only briefly while answering the judge's questions.

WATCH | Bryan Kohberger's full court appearance

Bryan Kohberger appeared to have several cuts on his face, including a roughly two-inch cut above his chin, on his jawline and another smaller one on his cheek.

Kohberger appeared to have several cuts on his face, including a roughly two-inch cut above his chin, on his jawline and another smaller one on his cheek, which the sheriff said was from shaving. He spoke only four words during the appearance, which lasted less than five minutes.

The public defender representing the suspect requested the judge allow four or five days for the probable cause hearing this summer, and the judge indicated she would block the week of June 26 for the matter. The judge also ordered that Kohberger remain remanded in state custody with no bond.

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Kohberger is being held without bail in the Latah County jail in Idaho, where he faces four counts of first-degree murder and one count of burglary in the fatal stabbings of Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20.

"Horror in Idaho: The Student Murders," a new "20/20" that looks at the case and includes exclusive sit-down interviews with parents and loved ones of the victims as well as interviews with those who knew suspect Bryan Kohberger, airs Friday, Jan. 13, on ABC and the next day on Hulu.

After a night out, the four undergrads were found dead November 13 in an off-campus home, according to police, fraying nerves in the college town of Moscow, Idaho, along the Washington state border.

Authorities arrested Kohberger almost seven weeks later, taking him into custody at his parents' home in Pennsylvania, where an attorney said he had traveled for the holidays. And while it took almost two months for authorities to publicly name a suspect, police -- who faced mounting criticism while the investigation outwardly appeared at a standstill -- had begun focusing on Kohberger as a suspect weeks earlier.

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In the meantime, a neighbor of Kohberger's in nearby Pullman, Washington, told CBS News the suspect asked him about the killings days after they occurred, allegedly saying, "Yeah, seems like they have no leads. Seems like it was a crime of passion." The neighbor asked not to be identified, CBS reported.

Among the most notable pieces of evidence was a witness account from one of the victims' surviving roommates, who told police she saw a man dressed in black inside the house the morning of the killings, according to a probable cause affidavit released last week. The witness described the man as about 5-foot-10 or taller and not very muscular but athletically built with bushy eyebrows, it said.

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Investigators were also drawn to a white sedan seen in local surveillance footage in the area around the home. By November 25, they had told local law enforcement to look out for the car, by then identified as a Hyundai Elantra.

Days later, officers at Washington State University, where Kohberger was a PhD student in criminal justice, found such a vehicle and discovered it was registered to Kohberger, the affidavit says.

When investigators searched for his driver's license information, they found it consistent with the description of the man dressed in black provided by the roommate, the affidavit says, specifically noting his height, weight and bushy eyebrows.

Kohberger got a new license plate for his car five days after the killings, the affidavit says. When he was arrested in Pennsylvania, a white Elantra was found at his home, according to Monroe County Chief Public Defender Jason LaBar, who represented the suspect in his extradition.

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Other evidence listed in the affidavit included phone records showing Kohberger's phone had been near the victims' home at least a dozen times since June. Records also show the phone near the site of the killings hours later, between 9:12 a.m. and 9:21 a.m., the document says.

Additionally, trash authorities recovered from Kohberger's family home revealed a DNA profile linked to DNA on a tan leather knife sheath found lying on the bed of one of the victims, the affidavit said. The DNA recovered from the trash is believed to be that of the biological father of the person whose DNA was found on the sheath, it said.

Kohberger was also surveilled for four days before his arrest, a law enforcement source told CNN. During that time, he was seen putting trash bags in neighbors' garbage bins and "cleaned his car, inside and outside, not missing an inch," according to the source.

A court order prohibits the prosecution and defense from commenting beyond referencing the public records of the case.

ABC News contributed to this report.

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