Demolition crews have demolished a home near the University of Idaho where four students were murdered last year. The removal comes despite objections from some members of the victims’ families, who say the site should be preserved in case it is needed for a future trial.
Context: The fate of the house has been controversial for months.
Bryan Kohberger is accused of murdering four students in November 2022 and faces four murder charges. Prosecutors have said they plan to seek the death penalty.
As the case progresses, the fate of the house where the murders took place is a point of contention.
Some of the victims’ family members argued that the house should remain standing in case it was needed in the prosecution of Mr. Kohberger, who was a criminology student at nearby Washington State University when he was accused of murder of Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle, Ethan. Chapin and Madison Mogen. Members of the Goncalves and Kernodle families said in a statement this week that the property could help answer questions that might arise during the prosecution, helping jurors understand the sights and sounds of the house.
“Please stop the demolition,” they said in a statement, calling the decision to proceed “madness.”
Prosecution and defense attorneys told university officials they agreed with the demolition. Prosecutors said a tour by jurors would be inappropriate because the property has been altered and subjected to numerous chemical applications.
The university decided to proceed, planning the demolition when many students would be away for winter break. University President C. Scott Green said in a statement that the house was a grim reminder of what happened there.
“While we appreciate the emotional connection that some of the victims’ family members may have with this house, it is time to remove it and allow the collective healing of our community to continue,” he said.
Why it matters: Jurors have sometimes visited notorious crime scenes.
The sites of heinous crimes have sometimes been made available for jurors to visit in person.
Last year, jurors in Parkland, Florida, visited the high school building where 17 students and staff were killed in 2018. This year, jurors visited attorney Alex Murdaugh’s property in South Carolina. South during a trial in which he was convicted of murder. his wife and son.
Other sites that have been demolished or renovated include the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, which was the scene of a mass shooting in 2012. That building was renovated and reopened within six months, well before the shooter is not judged.
What happens next: The families are awaiting a trial date in this case.
Mr. Kohberger continues to dispute the grounds for his indictment and no trial date has been set, although prosecutors have suggested it will continue this summer. The Goncalves and Kernodle families have expressed frustration that the case has been delayed for so long.
Prosecutors said Mr. Kohberger was linked to the scene of the stabbing by DNA evidence found on a knife sheath next to one of the victims, as well as images showing a white vehicle similar to his in the neighborhood. His cell phone was disconnected from the cellular network during the killings, and his lawyers said he was out for a drive at the time of the early morning attack.
Mr. Kohberger said through a lawyer that he hoped to be exonerated.
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