Moscow, ID

"Bryan Kohberger Trial: Second Death Penalty-Qualified Attorney Added to Defense Team"

Ani News USA

Bryan Kohberger, the suspect accused of the brutal murder of four University of Idaho students, will receive another death penalty-qualified attorney in his defense team. This move comes after Kohberger's current attorney, Anne Taylor, filed a motion on March 2 to appoint a co-counsel qualified to act in cases involving the death penalty. Latah County Magistrate Judge Megan Marshall granted the move on Tuesday.

The Murders

Four counts of first-degree murder and burglary are being brought against Kohberger, a 28-year-old graduate student in criminology at Washington State University in Pullman, in connection with the murders of Kaylee Goncalves, 21, Madison Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Ethan Chapin, 20. On November 13, 2022, the four students were fatally stabbed in a rental house near the University of Idaho campus in Moscow. Although Kohberger hasn't yet decided, his former attorney said he was "ready to be exonerated." The first day of Kohberger's preliminary hearing is set on June 26.

The Need for a Death Penalty-Qualified Attorney

It is unclear if prosecutors will seek the death penalty in Kohberger's case, but many experts believe that it is "relatively obvious" that they will. According to Idaho's administrative code, death penalty cases must have at least two death-qualified defense attorneys. A death-qualified attorney has experience and training in capital punishment cases. The Idaho Public Defense Commission maintains a roster of defense attorneys qualified to represent defendants in cases where the death penalty may be or has been sought or imposed.

Factors in Choosing the Second Attorney

While it is not yet clear who will determine who the second death-qualified attorney in Kohberger's case will be, some factors are likely to come into play. Availability is a primary consideration as counsel in public defender offices have maximum caseloads they can handle at any time. The second consideration is who can join the team and be an excellent second chair. However, there is also a possibility that the second attorney will lead the defense team.

Death Penalty in Idaho

According to the Idaho Department of Correction, Idaho has eight people on death row—seven men and one woman. Idaho's last execution was of Richard Leavitt in 2012. Lethal injection is currently the only approved method of execution in the state. Still, firing squads could be brought back as an alternative method of execution under a bill making its way through the state legislature.


Bryan Kohberger's case is tragic, and adding another death penalty-qualified attorney to his defense team highlights the seriousness of the charges against him. While it is still unclear whether prosecutors will seek the death penalty, the need for qualified counsel is paramount where capital punishment is possible. It remains to be seen who will join Kohberger's defense team, but their role will be crucial in ensuring he receives a fair trial.


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