Kaylee Goncalves' family has been outspoken about keeping the home intact
THE demolition of the three-story house where four University of Idaho students were found butchered on November 13, 2022, would benefit Bryan Kohberger's defense at trial, a legal expert has warned.
Plans are in motion to tear down the house on King Road in Moscow, Idaho, less than two hours from the Washington state border, on December 28 at 7 am, the university announced.
"It is the grim reminder of the heinous act that took place there," President Scott Green said.
"While we appreciate the emotional connection some family members of the victims may have to this house, it is time for its removal and to allow the collective healing of our community to continue."
The fast-approaching date, which has raised concerns, will see the property destroyed before the start of Kohberger's trial, which has not yet been set.
The move will likely benefit Kohberger's defense, forcing the state to rely on people's memories and recollections during the trial, said Mark NeJame - a Florida-based defense lawyer from NeJame Law who has no affiliation with the case.
'BENEFICIAL TO THE DEFENSE'
NeJame also believes that the prosecution's case may be in jeopardy if a ruling is made against using the FBI's 3D rendering of the Moscow home.
"It will be beneficial to the defense because if there's discussion in keeping out a 3D rendering or video, then you're simply relying on people's memories and recollections and the reports that are put together by law enforcement," NeJame exclusively told The U.S. Sun.
"There's nothing more important than the actual evidence.
"I would think the community is outraged over this, so I suspect that calmer heads prevail upon the university, which did not want to leave it as a lasting memento."
Since late October, federal agents have been constructing visual and audio exhibits and a physical 3D model of the three-floor property to use during the trial.
The exhibits will help the jury understand how the suspect might have maneuvered through the house to get in and how the crime occurred.
Kohberger's defense team was given access to the home on December 14 and 15 to take pictures and measurements of the area to prepare their case for trial.
State prosecutors were also allowed the same access before the planned demolition date.
The Goncalves family released the following statement through their attorney, Shanon Gray: "Let us ask this: Isn't it better to have the King Rd. House and not need it than need the house and not have it?
"That has been our question to the Prosecution and the University of Idaho for the entire time the demo of the King Road has been an issue.
"But why is it even up for discussion? This is one of the most horrific crimes in the history of Idaho and the University of Idaho wants to destroy one of the most critical pieces of evidence in the case - and it is also important to make note that there is now a demolition date before there is even a trial date set. This alone speaks volumes.
"It is obvious from the two recent visits to the house, by both the Prosecution and the Defense, that there is still evidentiary value in having the King Road house still standing," Gray added.
"There may be additional discovery by either party that prompts one side or the other to go back to the scene of the crime.
"There has always been a dialogue about there 3-D imaging or they are building a model to replicate the home, etc…First and foremost, what a waste of state money and resources and secondly, nothing replaces the real thing.
"Jurors are notoriously unpredictable and they tend to make decisions on a variety of facts and circumstances.
"It would be foolish of us to try and foresee what they will want or need to make a just verdict in this case.
"The family has stressed tirelessly to the Prosecution and the University of Idaho the importance (evidentiary and emotionally) that the King Road house carries but nobody seems to care enough.
"It’s like screaming into a void. Nobody is listening and everyone tells you how sorry they are for the decision but the families’ opinion isn’t a priority. Victims' families have a voice and should be heard and listened to!"
The U.S. Sun has reached out to the Goncalves family for comment.
Moscow police discovered the bodies of housemates Kaylee Goncalves, 22, Madison Mogen, 22, Xana Kernodle, 21, and her boyfriend, Ethan Chapin, 21, in the early hours of November 22, 2022, in their off-campus house.
The friends were slaughtered in their second and third-floor bedrooms with a military-grade knife after a suspect broke into their home via a sliding door, according to an arrest warrant.
Six weeks after the grim discovery, officials arrested 28-year-old Kohberger — a graduate student at nearby Washington State University — at his parent's home in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, about 48 miles south of Scranton.
Kohberger was charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of felony burglary. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Prosecutors say there was DNA on a knife sheath recovered from the murder scene that was a near-perfect match to Kohberger.
Officials centered their investigation on a white Hyundai Elantra, the exact model vehicle owned by Kohberger, which was spotted on surveillance cameras in the area at the time of the murders.
Investigators also uncovered cell phone records that pinned Kohberger's mobile in the area of the victims' house at least 12 times before the murders, dating back to August 2022.
His cell phone was also tracked entering Moscow before the attacks occurred and then as the car returned to Pullman, Washington.
The mobile device was powered off from 2:47 am to 4:48 am, which is consistent with Kohberger attempting to conceal his location during the quadruple homicide, according to court documents.
Kohberger's trial was scheduled to begin in October but was postponed after he waived his right to a speedy trial.
If convicted, Kohberger could face the death penalty.
Source: The U.S. Sun