An Idaho judge has refused to dismiss the murder indictment against the 28-year-old man accused of killing four University of Idaho students nearly a year ago.
The suspect, who is not being named by The Daily Wire, has been charged with four counts of murder and one count of burglary relating to the killing of Ethan Chapin, 20; Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Madison Mogen, 21, in the early morning hours of November 13, 2022, in the college town of Moscow.
His attorneys filed a motion earlier this year requesting that the indictment against the accused be dismissed, claiming that the grand jury was biased, given inadmissible evidence, and didn’t use the correct legal standard when indicting, the Associated Press reported. The hearing for these claims was held behind closed doors, except for the allegations of an improper legal standard due to Idaho law about keeping grand jury details secret.
Idaho 2nd District Judge John Judge rejected the argument that the grand jury should have used the “reasonable doubt” standard – as is required in the actual criminal trial – instead of the “probable cause” standard that is legally permissible in a grand jury, which does not hear the full evidence as a trial jury would.
A trial date has not been set, and Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson has said he intends to seek the death penalty against the suspect.
The suspect is connected to the murders through DNA found on a knife sheath that had been left behind at the crime scene, according to authorities.
In early August, his attorneys offered an alibi for the suspect’s whereabouts on the night of the murder, saying he was out driving late at night.
“[The suspect] has long had a habit of going for drives alone. Often he would go for drives at night. He did so late on November 12 and into November 13, 2022,” Anne Taylor, the suspect’s attorney, wrote in the filing. “[The suspect] is not claiming to be at a specific location at a specific time; at this time there is not a specific witness to say precisely where [my client] was at each moment of the hours between late night November 12, 2022, and early morning November 13, 2022. He was out, driving during the late night and early morning hours of November 12-13, 2022.”
Part of the evidence that led to the suspect’s arrest, mentioned in a previously unsealed probable cause affidavit, showed that police were able to narrow the timeframe of the crime to between 4:00 a.m. and 4:25 a.m. and reviewed video footage taken in the area in the time before and after the murders are believed to have occurred. The footage showed a white Hyundai Elantra without a front license plate (front license plates are required in Washington and Idaho, but not in Pennsylvania, where the car was registered) in the area between 3:29 a.m. and 4:20 a.m.
The vehicle can be seen passing the off-campus residence three times before returning a fourth time around 4:04 a.m. and attempting to turn around on the road. The vehicle was next seen around 4:20 a.m. traveling away from the direction of the off-campus residence at high speed, heading in the direction of a road that eventually leads to Pullman, Washington, where the suspect attended Washington State University (WSU).
Video footage from the WSU campus showed a white Hyundai Elantra leaving the area and heading toward Moscow at around 2:53 a.m. This vehicle was again observed on five cameras in Pullman and the WSU campus at around 5:25 a.m.
Police pulled records for white Hyundai Elantras registered at WSU on November 29 – just over two weeks after the murders were committed – and found one belonging to the man who was eventually arrested. Police reviewed the owner’s Washington state driver’s license and determined he matched the suspect’s physical description provided by one of the surviving roommates.
Police matched the suspect to the vehicle through two previous traffic stops in the months before the murders. They also learned that the suspect registered his car in Washington and received Washington plates on November 18 – five days after the murders.
In a previous filing, the suspect’s attorneys claimed that DNA found at the crime scene may have been planted by police.
“The State’s argument asks this Court and [the suspect] to assume – is that the DNA on the sheath was placed there by [the suspect], and not someone else during an investigation that spans hundreds of members of law enforcement and apparently at least one lab the State refuses to name,” the suspect’s defense attorneys wrote.