Demolition crews tore down a home near the University of Idaho where four college students were killed last year. The removal comes despite objections from some victims' relatives who believe the site should be preserved in case it is needed for a future trial.
Context: The fate of the house has been in dispute for months.
Bryan Kohberger is accused of killing four college students in November 2022 and faces four counts of murder. Prosecutors have said they planned to seek the death penalty.
As the case progresses, the fate of the house where the murders occurred has been a point of contention.
Some relatives of the victims have argued that the house should remain standing in case it is needed for the prosecution of Mr. Kohberger, who was a criminology student at nearby Washington State University when he was accused of killing Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle, Ethan Chapín and Madison Mogen. Members of the Goncalves and Kernodle families said in a statement this week that the property could help answer questions that may 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 “insane.”
Both prosecutors and defense attorneys have told university officials they agree with the demolition. Prosecutors said a juror visit would be inappropriate because the property has been altered and subjected to extensive chemical applications.
The university decided to proceed and planned the demolition for when many students were 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 some of the victims' families may have to 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 occasionally visited notorious crime scenes.
At times, the sites of heinous crimes have been made available to jurors to view in person.
Last year, jurors in Parkland, Florida, visited the high school building where 17 students and staff members were murdered in 2018. This year, jurors visited attorney Alex Murdaugh's property in South Carolina during a trial in which he was convicted of murder. his wife and his son.
Other sites have been demolished or renovated, including the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, which was the site of a mass shooting in 2012. That building was remodeled and reopened within six months, long before the gunman went on trial.
What happens next: The families are awaiting a trial date in the case.
Kohberger continues to question the basis of his accusation and no trial date has been set, although prosecutors have suggested it take place this summer. The Goncalves and Kernodle families expressed frustration that the case has been delayed so long.
Prosecutors have said Kohberger is linked to the stabbing scene by DNA evidence found on a knife sheath next to one of the victims, along with images showing a white vehicle similar to his in the neighborhood. His mobile phone was disconnected from the cellular network during the murders, and his lawyers have said that he went for a drive around the time of the attack, early in the morning.
Kohberger has said through an attorney that he hopes to be exonerated.
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