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An attorney for the man accused of killing four University of Idaho students claims her client was out driving alone on the night of the murders and wasn’t in the home at the time of the murders.
The 28-year-old suspect, who is not being named per Daily Wire policy, has been charged with killing Ethan Chapin, 20; Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Madison Mogen, 21, in the early morning hours of November 13, 2022. DNA found on a knife sheath left behind at the crime scene has been matched to the suspect’s DNA.
His attorneys said in a new court filing that they “cannot be more specific” about what witnesses may say to corroborate the claims “at this time,” but noted this information may be found during discovery and through cross-examination of witnesses at trial, ABC News reported.
“[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,” attorney Anne Taylor 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 coming back 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 for the crime. Police reviewed the owner’s Washington state driver’s license and determined he matched the physical description of the suspect 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 vehicle 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.