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Idaho College Murders: Bryan Kohberger’s Lawyers Request Change of Venue

via NBC
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Lawyers for the accused killer of four Idaho college students are requesting a change of venue for the capital murder trial due to extensive pretrial publicity and the small, close-knit community making it difficult to find an impartial jury.

The accused, Bryan Kohberger, faces allegations of stabbing the students to death, and his lawyers argue that enlarging the jury pool within Latah County will not overcome the bias.

Prosecutors disagree, citing the national attention the case has received.

“It’s not Moscow. It’s not Latah County. It’s everywhere. So, I don’t think that a change of venue is going to solve any of these problems,” Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson said. “I have people, friends in this community who have traveled to Mexico. And they say, ‘You’re from Moscow?’ And immediately, they want to talk about this case.”

“Just because it’s a horrific crime doesn’t mean a local juror who may have heard about it can’t be fair-minded about the facts before them – or that they’re going to be motivated to convict the wrong person,” former prosecutor Matt Murphy said. “They’re arguably all the more motivated to find the right person. When you’re talking about brutal murder – getting it wrong means the real killer may still be a danger to their families and their neighborhoods.”

The defense faces a high bar to prove the need for a change of venue, and the trial date remains uncertain.

“The way the right is written is – a jury of your peers – and while it’s right to consider in high-profile cases like this, because it’s so high-profile, moving it to another Idaho county won’t necessarily help,” criminal defense attorney David Calviello said. “While it may be difficult to get a fair and impartial pool that’s not a reason itself to kick it.”

“Successful motions to change venue are exceedingly rare,” Murphy said. “Essentially, the defense has to establish that they cannot find 12 fair jurors in the current jurisdiction, which is a tall order. It’s not just that people have heard about the case, they must be fundamentally unable to follow the law and biased towards the defendant.”

“We at least owe Latah County, the people of Latah County, the attempt to seat a jury here first. And not just rely on, ‘There’s been a lot of publicity.’ There’s been a lot of publicity everywhere,” Thompson said.

“We believe that we can select an appropriate panel of jurors from Latah County. We have the tools to work with that, that we’ve discussed with your honor,” he said.

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