Defense attorney Mark NeJame chimed in on how the demolition may put the prosecution's case in jeopardy
THE FBI's 3D reconstruction of the University of Idaho murder house is a double-edged sword that can be a risky play come trial time, a defense attorney has warned.
The infamous house on King Road in Moscow, Idaho, where four University of Idaho students were found butchered on November 13, 2022, was demolished on Thursday morning.
Demolition crews rolled onto the off-campus property grounds just before 8 am local time, hauling heavy machinery, including bulldozers.
Shocking video captured the moment a bulldozer ripped through the home as rubble flew to the ground below.
The front of the building was demolished in roughly 15 minutes, and the entire house was in ruins in less than two hours.
Debris from sections of the home were placed into a dump truck before it was hauled away.
The three-floor house, which was rented out to six undergraduate students, has sat abandoned since the grisly slayings involving housemates Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, both 22, Xana Kernodle, 21, and her boyfriend Ethan Chapin, also 21, who was sleeping over.
State prosecutors and defense attorneys paid one final visit to the home, located just south of campus, the week of December 19 to prepare for trial.
Since late October, FBI officials have been constructing visual and audio exhibits and a physical 3D model of the home to use during the impending trial.
The exhibits will help the jury understand how suspected killer Bryan Kohberger gained access to the home, how he maneuvered through the house, and how the murders may have occurred.
However, Florida-based defense lawyer Mark NeJame stressed that the prosecution's rendering is a risky play that can be used in favor of the defense.
"It's demonstrative evidence, and it's very powerful," NeJame exclusively told The U.S. Sun.
"The FBI has used it for years for their own purposes, but now, with the advancement of technology, we're going to see more and more of these entering into the court system.
"The good thing about is it really helps people get a better understanding about what his [Bryan Kohberger] allegations may be.
"The negative is it can take presumptions and matters where there's really no proof, and then it gives a powerful imagery to a jury that may not be accurate."
NeJame warned: "So, people need to understand that it's a presentation from one side's perspective.
"The challenge is, is it inaccurate, and does it unfairly sway the juror because it's powerful, the imagery is powerful.
"I think that's something we have to be aware of. If I were the prosecution, who wants this in, I would say, 'This is our theory. This is what we believe the facts show,' and then just put it in."
NeJame suggested that as long as state prosecutors clarify to the jury that the model is a theory, they have a better chance of getting it into evidence.
"If I were the defense, I would say that it is unfairly prejudiced to the jury because it’s presuming facts that are not in evidence," NeJame said.
"Or it’s so prejudicial because it makes it appear that this is what happened when it’s really only the theory of what happened.”
NeJame believes the prosecution's case may be in jeopardy if a ruling is made against the use of the rendering during the trial now that the murder scene is reduced to rubble.
"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 previously 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."
Although not new, judges in the past have ruled in favor of allowing jurors to walk through a crime scene.
The visits give jurors a first-hand perspective on how a crime played out and thoroughly review evidence presented by the prosecution and defense at trial.
In some cases, it can even result in an acquittal - such was the case in the November 1994 double murder trial of OJ Simpson.
In other high-profile cases, the visits allowed jurors to unanimously vote on a conviction, such as Alex Murdaugh's double murder trial of his wife and son in March.
And, in Parkland, Florida, school shooter Nikola Cruz's sentencing trial, a juror described how a visit to the school before deliberation helped her bring the case to life.
Kohberger, who has pleaded not guilty to four counts of first-degree murder, is currently being held without bond at the Latah County Jail, less than two miles from the murder site.
Prosecutors have asked the judge for a summer trial date.
If convicted, the 29-year-old Washington State University graduate student could face the death penalty.
Source: The U.S. Sun