An Idaho judge has amended the gag order in the Moscow student murders case, which now restricts the remarks of attorneys for the victims, their families and witnesses – in addition to investigators, the prosecution and defense.
The case against Bryan Kohberger, a 28-year-old Ph.D. student at Washington State University, has drawn national attention for more than two months.
He allegedly entered a home just steps off the neighboring University of Idaho campus and attacked four undergrads with a knife around 4 a.m. on Nov. 13. For almost seven weeks, police did not publicly name a suspect.
With help from the FBI, they arrested him in Pennsylvania on Dec. 30. He is charged with four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Maddie Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, along with Xana Kernodle, 20, and her boyfriend Ethan Chapin, also 20. He faces an additional charge of felony burglary.
Bill Thompson, the Latah County prosecuting attorney, told reports at a news briefing on the day of the arrest to expect most information to come out in court.
Latah County Magistrate Judge Megan Marshall doubled down on that with the new order this week, expanding the scope of the order.
“The attorneys for any interested party in this case, including the prosecuting attorney, defense attorney, and any attorney representing a witness, victim, or victim’s family, as well as the parties to the above entitled action, including but not limited to investigators, law enforcement personal (sic), and agents for the prosecuting attorney or defense attorney, are prohibited from making extra judicial statements (written or oral) concerning this case, except, without additional comment, a quotation from or reference to the official public record of the case,” she wrote.
Read the order (App users go Here):
At least one victim’s family has hired a lawyer. The new order appears to bar Shanon Gray, who is representing Kaylee Goncalves’ parents, from publicly discussing the case.
It comes shortly after a report, citing an unnamed law enforcement source, alleged that Kohberger had sent numerous messages to at least one of the victims over Instagram prior to the attacks.
“Interestingly the order doesn’t bind the victims’ families…only the attorneys for them.,” said Edwina Elcox, a Boise-based criminal defense attorney who previously represented the so-called “Cult Mom” Lori Vallow. “Because what authority does the Court have to bind non parties? None.”
The basis for the amended order, she said, may be Idaho Rule of Professional Conduct 3.6, regarding trial publicity on page 44.
Read the Idaho Rules of Professional Conduct (App users go Here)
The three women lived together in the King Road rental house with two other friends, who were not targeted – including one who told police she heard crying and saw a masked man leaving. Chapin was spending the night.
Goncalves had a dog who also survived the attack – and police said they found possible animal hair when they searched Kohberger’s apartment in Pullman, Washington, near the WSU campus.
Marshall had issued the initial gag order on Jan. 3 – prohibiting prosecutors, the defense and investigators from discussing topics including evidence in the case, a potential confession, the possibility of a plea deal, opinions regarding the merits of the case or the defense, and the “character, credibility or criminal record of a party.”
For weeks before, local police and the county prosecutor had been tight-lipped about the case, and defense attorney Anne Taylor, the public defender of nearby Kootenai County appointed to the case, ignored questions from Fox News Digital prior to the judge’s order.
Kohberger could face the death penalty. His next scheduled hearing is June 26, when he is expected to challenge the evidence used to obtain his arrest warrant.
As Fox News Digital has reported, the preliminary hearing could become unnecessary if prosecutors obtain a grand jury indictment.