Bryan Kohberger could face death penalty in Idaho murders

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Bryan Kohberger could face death penalty in Idaho murders

Accused quadruple murderer Bryan Kohberger could end up on death row at the state’s gnarliest maximum-security prison, according to a legal expert.

“I would certainly think [the death penalty] would be [requested],” Idaho criminal defense attorney Jim Siebe told NonStop Local this week of Kohberger, 28, who is accused of murdering four University of Idaho students in a knife attack which has captivated the nation.

Kohberger was arrested at his parents’ Albrightsville, Pennsylvania home last week in connection to Nov. 13 murders and is being extradited today. In Idaho, he faces four murder charges in addition to one charge of felony burglary.

“Of course, I can’t speak for [Latah County prosecutor] Bill Thompson,” Siebe continued. 

“He’s the one that makes the determination…based on consultation with law enforcement people, with the families [of the victims], [and] some determination as to the personal circumstances of a defendant, where maybe a defendant is subject to a severe mental illness.”

Bryan Kohberger pictured following his extradition hearing on Jan. 3.
Bryan Kohberger pictured following his extradition hearing on Jan. 3.
Paul Martinka

Kohberger, a graduate student in criminology at Washington State University in Pullman, lived around 10 miles from the off-campus residence where the early-morning killings took place. Classmates described him as a quiet and “perpetually exhausted” loner, but noted he became “chattier” in the wake of the murders.

At his extradition hearing Tuesday, presiding Judge Margherita Worthington asked: “Mr. Kohberger, do you suffer from any mental health diagnosis or take prescribed medication or medication that would impact ability to understand what we are doing here today?” .

“No,” he answered.

Prosecutor Bill Thompson’s could not immediately be reached for comment.

Attorney Jim Siebe predicted prosecutors seeking the death penalty for Kohberger.
Attorney Jim Siebe predicted prosecutors seeking the death penalty for Kohberger.
KNDU
The Moscow, Idaho home where four University of Idaho students were killed on Nov. 13.
The Moscow, Idaho home where four University of Idaho students were killed on Nov. 13.
Kevin C. Downs for NY Post

Even Idaho officials do seek the death penalty for Kohberger, it is unlikely the punishment will be carried out. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, Idaho has only executed three people since the practice resumed in 1976. 

The state’s last inmate to be executed, Richard Albert Leavitt, spent 26 years on death row before dying by lethal injection in 2012.

As of 2023, there are eight inmates – including one of the country’s few women sentenced to capital punishment, Robin Row – on Idaho’s death row. If found guilty and then sentenced to death, Kohberger would likely await execution at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution.

The final picture of the four victims, just hours before they were killed in their Moscow home.

Located in the South Boise Prison Complex, the intimidating campus includes a double-perimeter fence reinforced with razor wire, and electronic detection system, and a 24-hour armed patrol.

News about Kohberger’s possible future accommodations in Idaho comes as the Warden Garry Handle dismissed rumors the suspect taunted guards at the Monroe County Correctional Facility over the weekend.

“His confinement…was uneventful,” he told the Idaho Statesman.

The Idaho Maximum Security Institution, where the state's death row is housed.
The Idaho Maximum Security Institution, where the state’s death row is housed.
Idaho Department of Correction

Kohberger was reportedly escorted from the Monroe County facility early Wednesday, and is expected to arrive in Idaho within several hours.

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