Accused Idaho Killer’s Alibi Corroborated by Cell Phone Data, Defense Says

Rachel Acenas
By Rachel Acenas
April 18, 2024US News
Accused Idaho Killer’s Alibi Corroborated by Cell Phone Data, Defense Says
In a still from video, an officer from Washington State University stops Bryan Kohberger for a traffic violation on Oct. 14, 2022. (Courtesy of Washington State University)

The man accused of killing four University of Idaho students submitted an alibi on Wednesday that disputes his location on the night of the quadruple murders.

Bryan Kohberger, 29, was out for a drive at the time of the murders, the newly-filed document states, but did not drive near the crime scene as prosecutors claim. Mr. Kohberger was traveling in his vehicle elsewhere to “explore,” according to the two-page court document.

20-year-old Xana Kernodle, 20-year-old Ethan Chapin, 21-year-old Kaylee Goncalves and 21-year-old Madison Mogen were stabbed to death in a rental house located near campus in Moscow, Idaho.

“Mr. Kohberger was out driving on the early morning hours of November 13, 2022; as he often did to hike and run and/or see the moon and stars. He drove throughout the area south of Pullman, Washington, west of Moscow, Idaho including Wawawai Park,” the filing states.

The suspect was a criminology Ph.D. student at Washington State University in nearby Pullman. He spent a lot of time exploring the area after moving to the area earlier that year, his lawyers said. Mr. Kohberger was an “avid runner and hiker” but began driving more instead due to his busy schedule, his attorneys wrote.

“This is supported by data from Mr. Kohberger’s phone showing him in the countryside late at night and/or in the early morning on several occasions. The phone data includes numerous photographs taken on several different late evenings and early mornings, including in November, depicting the night sky,” the statement said.

To further corroborate his alibi, his lawyers plan to present testimony from an expert on cell phone data analysis to show that the position of Mr. Kohberger’s mobile device does not match surveillance video obtained by the state. The footage, prosecutors claim, allegedly captured his vehicle, a white sedan, repeatedly cruising past the victims’ home on a dead-end street around the time of the murders.

The defense team also said it has additional details about his alibi. But they accused prosecutors of failing to provide the requested discovery about it. Mr. Kohberger’s lawyers warned that their expert’s testimony would not only corroborate his alibi but also reveal that a piece of “critical exculpatory evidence” was either withheld or not preserved by the state.

Meanwhile, as the defense team disputes his exact location, court documents previously revealed that a DNA sample taken from the suspect matched DNA from a knife sheath found at the crime scene. Mr. Kohberger’s lawyers argued that lab analysts were aware that DNA from two other, unknown men was discovered inside the residence. The DNA from a third male was also found on a glove outside the home, a previous court filing states.

Mr. Kohberger was arrested in Pennsylvania one month after the stabbings. He was charged with four counts of murder and burglary and pleaded not guilty to the charges. He remains jailed in Latah County, Idaho, where he is being held without bail after his extradition from Pennsylvania.

The next hearing is set for May 14.  The judge will consider the defense’s motion to compel the discovery, as well as their motion for a change of venue.

A date for Mr. Kohberger’s trial has not yet been set. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

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