Bryan Kohberger, accused of murdering four Idaho students, wants cameras out of courtroom

Lawyers for a man accused of stabbing four University of Idaho students to death late last year want cameras banned from the courtroom, claiming news coverage of the criminal trial has violated a judge’s orders. and threatens his right to a fair trial.

Bryan Kohberger is charged with four counts of murder in connection with the deaths at a rental home near the university campus in Moscow, Idaho, last November.

A judge entered a not guilty plea on Kohberger’s behalf earlier this year.

Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson has said he intends to seek the death penalty and a trial in the case is scheduled for this fall, although it could be postponed.

Kohberger was a graduate student studying criminology at Washington State University, which is located a short distance from the scene of the murders, just across the state line.

He was arrested at his parents’ home in Pennsylvania and the unusual details of the case have sparked widespread interest.

Second District Judge John Judge heard arguments over access to the cameras Wednesday afternoon but did not immediately issue a decision.

Kohberger is charged with four counts of murder in connection with the deaths at a rental home near the university campus in Moscow, Idaho, last November.AP

In a court document filed late last month, defense attorneys Anne Taylor and Jay Logsdon said the media group’s photographers and videographers violated the judge’s orders to show a wide shot of the courtroom and avoid recording footage of notes. on the lawyers’ tables.

Kohberger’s attorneys pointed to photographs showing their client entering the courtroom and observing court proceedings while seated at the defense tables, as well as smaller videos that included indecipherable white papers on the defense table and part of from Taylor’s laptop screen.

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At the time, the laptop screen displayed footage from the court’s camera system, which was also displayed on the courtroom’s large projector screen during portions of the proceedings.

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“The cameras’ continued exclusive focus on Mr. Kohberger provides fodder for observers and supposed ‘analysts’ on social media, who are not bound by notions of journalistic integrity and who potentially have an even greater reach than traditional media outlets. “said defense attorneys. he wrote, pointing out unflattering posts about Kohberger on X, formerly known as Twitter.

But Wendy Olson, an attorney representing a coalition of news organizations, including The Associated Press, said pool photographers and videographers have scrupulously followed the judge’s instructions, providing a variety of photographs and videos of all participants in the room. of the court and often keeping the shots as wide as possible. is feasible within the relatively small courtroom.

In a court document filed last week, Olson noted that news organizations also published images that included close-ups of the judge and experts who testified in the case.

Court cameras provide the public with government transparency and increase understanding about the responsibilities of the judiciary, he wrote, and can counter false or misleading narratives that are often spread on social media sites.

“Removing cameras from the courtroom will not prevent or diminish media coverage of Mr. Kohberger’s case, but it will lead to a significantly less accurate representation of the judicial process,” Olson wrote.

Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson agreed that responsible media has “enormous value” in helping the public understand the real facts of what is happening in court, but said that can be done no photos or videos.

He wrote in a court filing that the cameras could have a chilling effect on vulnerable witnesses who were deeply affected by the deaths and who have already been subject to threats and harassment online.

Thompson asked the judge to ban cameras from the courtroom at least during the trial and any other proceedings in which vulnerable victims might be asked to testify.

The bodies of Madison Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin were found on November 13, 2022 in a home across from the University of Idaho campus. Investigators gathered DNA evidence, cell phone data and surveillance video that they say links Kohberger to the murders.

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