Idaho murders case: State seeks death penalty for Bryan Kohberger

The State of Idaho is seeking the death penalty for Bryan Kohberger, the man suspected of killing four University of Idaho students.

In a notice sent to Kohberger's public defender Anne Taylor on Monday, the Latah County Prosecutor's Office announced they were seeking the death penalty given the "statutory aggravating circumstances" of the first-degree murder charges.

Prosecutors argue the four murders carried out in quick succession, the "especially heinous, atrocious or cruel" nature of the murders, the "utter disregard for human life," and the suspected likelihood of the suspect’s continued "threat to society" as factors to their pursuance of the death penalty.

"The State gives this notice based on the face that is has not identified or been provided with any mitigating circumstances sufficient to prohibit the tiers of fact from considering all penalties authorized by the Idaho legislature including the possibility of a capital sentence," reads the letter. "Consequently, considering all evidence currently known to the State, the State is compelled to file this notice of intent to seek the death penalty."

Kohberger is accused of killing four Idaho students in an off-campus rental home on Nov. 13, 2022. He has been held in jail without bail since he was arrested at his parents' home in Pennsylvania in late December.

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Per Idaho Code, every person guilty of first-degree murder will be "punished by death or by imprisonment for life." 

The death penalty can only be imposed if the prosecuting attorney files a written notice of intent to seek the death penalty with the court. Prosecutors must serve that notice to the defense and their attorney no later than 60 days after a plea is entered, according to Idaho Code.

Prosecutors on June 26 served the written notice of intent to seek the death penalty against Kohberger.

Idaho has been looking to resurrect the firing squad as an acceptable alternative to lethal injection for prisoners sentenced to death, a shortage of necessary drugs and a poor track record over the past four decades has experts pointing out the shortcomings of the "modern" and "clinical" practice used in most states that still carry out capital punishment.

If signed into law, Idaho's bill could impact the state's eight current death row inmates and possibly the future of student stabbings suspect Bryan Kohberger. He could face death if convicted of any one of four first-degree murder charges he faces in the November deaths of Madison Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves, Ethan Chapin or Xana Kernodle.

A judge has entered not guilty pleas for Kohberger in his case. His trial is scheduled to begin on Oct. 2.