Latah County District Judge John C. Judge held off Friday on setting a trial date for Bryan Kohberger, the 29-year-old Pennsylvania criminologist accused of killing four University of Idaho students in a 4 a.m. ambush in November 2022, over concerns by prosecutors and defense lawyers about the time it would take to be ready for the proceeding.
Judge also denied a motion to dismiss the quadruple murder charges against Kohberger, citing potential delays to the case, and denied a defense request to appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court.
Kohberger's trial had initially been scheduled for October, but his defense lawyers waived his right to a speedy trial. Defense lawyers said they expect the trial to last 12 to 15 weeks.
Latah County Prosecuting Attorney Bill Thompson's office asked the court to set a summer trial date to avoid interfering with parking at the neighboring high school, and to hold proceedings between semesters for the victims' classmates. The trial date hearing happened Friday afternoon, shortly after a closed-door session on other matters in the case.
"If we are going to try this case effectively with minimal unnecessary harm of disruption to our community, it should be done during the summertime," Thompson told Judge.
Taylor noted that a change of venue isn't necessary given the case's global attention and media coverage.
Defense attorneys requested a trial start date of sometime in the summer of 2025, citing the massive amounts of evidence involved.
"A few months from not a sufficient amount of time," defense attorney Anne Taylor said. "There is no possible way I can even read or watch everything I have now, or react to things that are still coming in if we're to have a deadline in time for a summer of 2024 trial."
She said her team recently received discovery evidence of more than 9,000 tips law enforcement received after the murders.
"Your honor, summer of 2024. It's impossible for us to do it," Taylor said.
Meanwhile, Judge said he needed more time to think about a start date, given the differences between the prosecution and defense.
"It's a decision that pulls me in two different directions," Judge said. "I just want to let it percolate a little bit. It's really hard for me to set something in 2025."
A summer trial with the university out of session would leave more room in hotels for people visiting town for the proceedings, prosecutors argued.
The University of Idaho's academic calendar shows next year's spring semester ends in the second week of June.
Prosecutors also asked the court for shortened days, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. PT.
"For a trial of this length, it is appropriate to afford jurors some amount of time to tend to their personal affairs," a court filing reads. "Additionally, having more time in the afternoon allows for better preparation by the parties and allows for reasonable opportunities and time for the Court and counsel to address any motions or other matters that routinely arise during the course of jury trials."
Jennings also asked Judge to set key pretrial deadlines, including for discovery, expert disclosures, witness lists and pretrial motions.
Kohberger is accused of entering a six-bedroom house on King Road in Moscow, Idaho, around 4 a.m. on Nov. 13, 2022 and killing four students inside.
The victims were Madison Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves, both 21; and Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin, both 20.
Two others in the house survived, including one who heard crying and saw a masked man with "bushy eyebrows" leave out the back door.
Police found a knife sheath under Mogen's body that they say had Kohberger's DNA on it.
Authorities also cited phone records and surveillance video showing Kohberger's white Hyundai Elantra in a probable cause affidavit last year.
At the time of the murders, Kohberger was studying for a Ph.D. in criminology at Washington State University, just 10 miles from Moscow.
Judge entered not guilty pleas on Kohberger's behalf at his arraignment in May. He could face the death penalty if convicted.